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Chelsea transfer news: Kepa suffers another blow with Lunin masterclass

Robin Bairner
Andrey Lunin and Kepa Arrizabalaga, RB Leipzig vs Real Madrid, Champions League, 2023/24
© IMAGO

Chelsea would have watched on in dismay as Real Madrid goalkeeper Andrey Lunin kept a clean sheet in his side’s 1-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg victory over RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Lunin got the better of a personal duel with Benjamin Sesko, in which the keeper went toe-to-toe with the up-and-coming striker and came out comprehensively on top.

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Sesko, who has been linked with a string of leading clubs, most notably Manchester United and to a lesser extent Chelsea, and has been dubbed the ‘next Erling Haaland’ after coming through at Red Bull Salzburg, was left frustrated time and again as the Real Madrid custodian thwarted him.

This was disastrous news for Chelsea, meanwhile, because it leaves Kepa Arrizabalaga in limbo, with the Blues’ chances of landing a big fee for the Spain international diminishing.

Kepa, 29, is presently on loan at Real Madrid after falling out of favour with the Blues. A deal was rushed through in August after Los Blancos’ regular No.1 Thibaut Courtois sustained a serious injury.

This opened the door for the former Athletic Club shot-stopper, who became the most expensive goalkeeper ever when Chelsea signed him in 2018 for €80 million, to make a loan move and kickstart his faltering career.

But Kepa suffered an adductor injury in November and has been struggling to win his place back since.

Lunin’s performance on Tuesday only cements the Chelsea man’s spot on the bench, with the Ukrainian keeping a clean sheet with nine saves and 2.19xG prevented. It was a monumental display.

Kepa frozen out

For the Blues, meanwhile, this is little short of a catastrophe. It means that there is little prospect of Kepa returning to the first team and building his transfer value.

Chelsea are, of course, aiming for a big summer sale, but Kepa’s Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) stands at just €16.5m, just a fraction of the fee they paid for him.

Meanwhile, this summer is their last chance to offload him for a reasonable price given his contract is up in 2025, after which he will become a free agent unless a new deal is signed.

Chelsea hoped that by loaning Kepa to Real Madrid, they were putting him in the shop window. Instead, they have merely displayed that they have overpaid for a player yet again.

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