Kepa Arrizabalaga 'ready' to fill in for Edouard Mendy

Sean Walsh
Arrizabalaga is now Chelsea's backup goalkeeper
Arrizabalaga is now Chelsea's backup goalkeeper / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has said he is prepared for the challenge of filling Edouard Mendy's big boots at club level when he heads to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January.

Arrizabalaga was the Blues' penalty shootout hero once again in their Carabao Cup fourth round win over Southampton on Tuesday in a rare start for the Spain international.

The £72m signing was replaced as Chelsea's starting goalkeeper by Mendy upon his arrival at Stamford Bridge last season, and has gone on to become one of Europe's top stoppers.

But with Senegal in action at AFCON from January 10 until potentially February 6, Arrizabalaga is prepared for an extended run back in the starting lineup.

“Well, it [AFCON] is two months away," Arrizabalaga said after beating Southampton. "Of course, we know it can happen [Mendy leaving] and I will be ready but we have a lot of games until we start thinking about that.

“Let’s go step by step and we’ll see what happens. If he goes to the African Cup, all the best and I’ll be ready. But it’s still a long way to arrive at that point.”

Arrizabalaga joined Chelsea in the summer of 2018 after the club triggered his enormous Athletic Club release clause, making him the most expensive goalkeeper of all time.

After a decent first season in west London, he struggled in his second campaign and Chelsea sought to bring in Mendy from Ligue 1 side Rennes.

Since Mendy's arrival, Arrizabalaga has only made six Premier League appearances, with many of his starts now coming in the domestic cups instead.