Kepa Real Madrid transfer: Most memorable Chelsea moments

Kepa Arrizabalaga became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea in 2018. Five years on, the Spain international has moved to Real Madrid on loan after a mixed time in London. Here’s a look back on some of Kepa’s most memorable Chelsea moments.

There was always going to be huge pressure on the Basque keeper given the enormous €80m fee Chelsea paid for his services. That remains a record for a goalkeeper and it’s fair to say he has never truly lived up to that price tag.

Should this be the end of Kepa’s time in England, his Premier League career will be remembered more for the bad moments than the good ones, although it has largely been cup competitions and particularly penalty shootouts that have served up some of the most memorable moments for Kepa in a Chelsea shirt.

2019 EFL Cup Final – Kepa refuses to be substituted


Kepa could yet go on to spend many more years at Stamford Bridge after his Real Madrid loan ends but the drama involving the player and then Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri at the end of the 2019 EFL Cup Final will take some topping when it comes to his most defining moment in England.

While comical from a neutral perspective, it was no laughing matter for a clearly furious Sarri as Kepa refused to be substituted in the dying moments of Extra Time with the showdown with Manchester City heading for penalties. The Italian had believed Kepa was injured and while the whole thing was later revealed to be a misunderstanding, the refusal of the young keeper to be replaced was an embarrassing episode for all involved.

To make matters worse, Chelsea went on to lose the shootout. Kepa later apologised for his actions, but was still fined and dropped for Chelsea’s next Premier League game against Tottenham.

Kepa saves send Chelsea to the Europa League Final

Perhaps the best moment for Kepa in a Chelsea shirt came later that season with an element of redemption for the EFL Cup drama. With the Europa League Semi-Final against Eintracht Frankfurt also going to penalties, Kepa produced two decisive saves to ensure the Blues progressed into a Final against Arsenal.

Largely forgiven for his actions at Wembley, Kepa was Chelsea’s clear first choice again by this point and was in goal as Sarri’s men defeated the Gunners 4-1 to lift the 2019 Europa League trophy in Baku.

Error vs Liverpool

There were a number of high profile gaffes and costly Kepa mistakes during Frank Lampard’s time in charge of the club as doubts began to grow about his ability to be the long-term number one that Chelsea had hoped for.

One of the most high profile came in a league game against Liverpool early in the 2020/21 season. A simple pass out from the back went straight to Sadio Mane who was left with an easy finish to put the Reds on the path to victory at Stamford Bridge and compound the misery for Lampard.

The Chelsea boss responded by publicly criticising Kepa and only four days later the club completed the signing of Edouard Mendy who was immediately instilled into the team and went on to start the majority of league games ahead of the Spaniard during the 2020/21 and 2021/22 seasons.

Another EFL Cup Final to forget

Kepa continued to get regular action in the cups during that period but endured another EFL Cup Final to forget in 2022. Thomas Tuchel was in charge of the Blues by this point and given Kepa’s strong overall record in penalty shootouts for Chelsea, the German decided to bring him on for Mendy in the final minute of Extra Time against Liverpool.

The stage was set for Kepa to lay the ghosts of 2019 to rest. However, his usual penalty saving instincts eluded him on this occasion as every single Liverpool player scored past him in a marathon shootout. With every other Chelsea player having also scored, it was left to Kepa himself to step up and attempt to level the shootout at 11-11 but he blazed over the bar as Jurgen Klopp’s side won the trophy.

Save of the season at Villa Park

While the 2022/23 season was a disaster from an overall Chelsea perspective, it was a better season for Kepa on a personal level as he started 29 of the club’s Premier League games, the most he’d managed since the 2019/20 campaign.

That included a sequence of five straight clean sheets early in the campaign with Kepa in impressive form. One of those clean sheets came away to Aston Villa where the keeper produced an inspired display with 7 saves, including an incredible reaction stop that was later voted the Premier League’s save of the season.

Only two Premier League goalkeepers finished last season with a higher save percentage than Kepa and his return to form may be a major reason why Real Madrid decided to move for the 28 year old following a serious injury for Thibaut Courtois.