The 2018 summer transfer window changed everything for goalkeepers.
Until that point, top-end stoppers went for around £35million. Manchester City paid that to secure Ederson and Everton spent £30million on Jordan Pickford who, at the time, was rumoured to be a transfer target for Chelsea and Arsenal.
Yet inside the space of a week, the world-record fee for a goalkeeper was shattered. Twice. Liverpool parted with an eye-watering £66million to sign Alisson Becker. Chelsea responded to missing out on the Brazilian by forking out £72million on Athletic Bilbao No.1 Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Despite arriving in similar circumstances, their experiences in England couldn’t be further apart. Alisson is now considered by many to be the best, not just in the Premier League but across Europe. Kepa, on the other hand, was benched for Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Leicester City following a number of disappointing performances.
According to various reports, a civil war within the club is brewing. Frank Lampard wants to part ways with his No.1 while those in charge of recruitment are reluctant to risk taking a hit on the Spaniard if he were to be sold.
Power struggles happen at clubs all over the world, though the debate generally centres around outfield players. The risk isn’t as great when this is the case. But if there’s doubt over a goalkeeper, it impacts the entire team. Irf Lampard is looking to piece together a squad capable of competing for a top-four place every season, a trustworthy No.1 is needed.
The Blues will have to back their former midfielder. Cutting ties with Kepa might be what is best for all involved. Replacing him, however, isn’t as easy as it might seem. Here, we take a detailed look at three possible options.
Chelsea are reportedly keen on the Ajax stopper. He could join team-mate Hakim Ziyech at Stamford Bridge following the announcement that the playmaker would be making the switch to the Premier League at the end of the season.
Onana, this term, has conceded, on average, 0.78 goals per 90 in the Eredivisie. He’s outperforming his expected goals against average of 0.88, highlighting his consistency as a shot-stopper.
He’s not overly busy, making 2.5 saves per 90, but those stats, coupled with his performances for Ajax in the Champions League last term, show the Cameroonian is a reliable goalkeeper who performs when it matters most. Exactly what Chelsea need.
Sean Dyche’s first-choice is reportedly a long-term target for the Blues. According to the Express, Lampard rates the 27-year-old and favours him ahead of other potential goalkeepers. No fee has been mooted but Burnley will no doubt want at least £20million for the England international.
At first glance, that would be a reasonable fee for a player proven in the English top-flight and possibly the man keeping goal for Gareth Southgate’s side at the European Championships.
But when you look at his underlying numbers, he doesn’t appear to be the answer to Chelsea’s woes. Despite being praised for his shot-stopping abilities, Pope is actually underperforming his metrics.
On average, he’s conceded 1.41 goals per 90 this season when he’s been expected to concede 1.24. That may not seem like much of a difference but so far he’s allowed five more goals than an average keeper would have facing those shots. He’s saving 67 per cent of shots, up on Kepa’s average of 57 per cent, but still shy of the elite in the league.
Pope may well be an upgrade on the Spaniard but he isn’t going to be the difference between a top-four push and a title challenge. That is what Chelsea have to strive for.
Currently second in Serie A, a point behind champions Juventus, the Eagles have stunned plenty this season. Ciro Immobile has stolen the spotlight with his goals but Strakosha deserves some of the credit. Simone Inzaghi’s side have been expected to concede 28.64 goals but they’ve only been breached on 21 occasions – giving them the best defensive record in the league.
Linked with Liverpool before they signed Alisson and Spurs as a potential replacement for Hugo Lloris, the 6ft 3in Albania international wouldn’t come cheap.
Believed to be valued at around £30million, he might be the best option for Chelsea. Not just in terms of value for money but the impact he could have on the team.