Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard has hit back at the continued criticism of goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, and insists the Spaniard still has a future at the club.
Kepa was signed from Athletic Club in the summer of 2018 for a world record £72m fee, but the 25-year-old has struggled to find any kind of consistency since arriving in west London.
His long-term future at the club has been called into question recently, particularly after Chelsea opted to strengthen their options with the £22m capture of Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. But Lampard, speaking to the press (quoted by the Mirror) ahead of the Blues' Carabao Cup tie with Tottenham, says the criticism of Kepa is "unfair" and denied he's played his last game for the club.
"I certainly won't go to the point of saying Kepa has played his last game for Chelsea," Lampard said, on his now traditional Zoom call.
"We have to also understand Kepa is a young man. A lot of the spotlight on him has become unfair. I have to protect him because I know he's a good lad trying to do his best."
Mendy's arrival was spearheaded by a recommendation from technical and performance advisor, Petr Cech, something director Marina Granovskaia alluded to earlier in the week when speaking to Chelsea's official website.
“As soon as Petr Cech and our technical team identified Edouard as the most suitable goalkeeper to complement our existing group, there was only one player we wanted to bring in," she said. “Edouard arrives following a season of real success with Rennes, he is ambitious for more, and we welcome him to our club.”
Lampard, meanwhile, is looking to lead his team into the latter stages of the Carabao Cup, with the fixtures coming thick and fast after coronavirus delayed the scheduled start of the 2020/21 season.
The Blues boss has made a number of signings this summer, and confirmed that Mendy and Ben Chilwell, a £50m arrival from Leicester, are in line to play against Spurs, though Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic are still recovering from knocks.
"Mendy and Chilwell are in the squad for tomorrow,’ Lampard confirmed. "They’re fit and we will see whether they start or not. Ziyech and Pulisic are not far away. They are still in their recovery stage so it’s too early for them both."