Please Wait . . .

Oblak, Kepa and the £16m that could have solved Chelsea's goalkeeping problem
Dark Mode
Top Leagues

Oblak, Kepa and the £16m that could have solved Chelsea's goalkeeping problem

23-Feb-2021, 03:07 pm

Oblak Kepa GFX

When Chelsea line up to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, they will be forced to face the ghosts of transfer decisions past.

At the other end will be Jan Oblak, a player so crucial in deciding results that his manager Diego Simeone has likened his impact to Lionel Messi.

For the small matter of just £16 million ($22m), things could have been verydifferent.

Back in the summer of 2018, Chelsea were on the search for a new No.1, with it clear that Thibaut Courtois was on his way out of Stamford Bridge as he edged towards signing for Real Madrid.

The Blues had two players at the top of their shortlist of potential replacements: Alisson Becker and Oblak.

Liverpool won the race for Alisson as the Brazil international swapped Roma for the Reds, leaving Oblakas Chelsea's primary option.

Despite the Blueshaving an outstanding relationship with the Spanish side, Atleti would not budge when it came to negotiating a deal for Oblak to leave.

The Slovenia shot-stopper had a€100m(£87m/$121m) release clause in his contract, and the Rojiblancos would not be accepting anything less.

Chelsea were unwilling to paythe price; they were set to receive only £35m ($49m) for Courtois as he entered the final year of his contract in west London, and went in search of alternatives.

That search led them to Kepa, almost two years younger than Oblak and, with a release clause of€80m (£71m/$99m), offered more long-term value for money if the potential he had shown at Athletic Club was realisedin the Premier League.

It has not worked out and it is fair to ask whether Chelsea did the right thing in turning down the chance to sign Oblak for the sake of an extra£16m ($23m).

While Oblak - who has been courted by two other Premier League clubs in the past -continues to set the standard for goalkeepers around the world, Kepa has spent the past 18 months in and out of the Chelsea team after a string of errors.

The Blues are keen to move the Spain international on, though the fact he still has four years to run on his original seven-year contract makes selling him at a palatable price difficult.

The club were hopeful that during the summer of 2020 a buyer would emerge, and there was some interest from Valencia, albeit in an initial loan deal rather than a permanent transfer.

Last summer, Chelsea knew that even if Kepa did not departthey would need a new permanent No.1, which saw them circle back in Oblak's direction.

In the two years since they first made their interest in him known,the 28-year-old signed a new deal at the Wanda Metropolitano, with his release clause increasing to€120m (£104m/$145m).

While Chelsea were quite happy to spend big in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, other clubs were not so forthcoming when it came to taking unwanted players off their hands.

As such, and with Atleti again refusing to budge on price, the Blues turned to Mendy at Rennes, who, at £22m ($31m), was more affordable, although an unknown quantity at the highest level.

The Senegal international has certainly been a far more reliable presence than Kepa ever was, though new manager Thomas Tuchel has opened the door to the latter earning more opportunities as he gets his feet under the table at Stamford Bridge.

As for Oblak, he continues to be linked with Europe's biggest clubs, though Atleti maintain their stancethat he will not be sold for a penny less than his release clause.

His current contract runs until 2023, though there might be few better places to be than with the Liga leaders right now.

Despite recent slip-ups, Simeone's side remain clear of Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Spanish title race, and are on a far sounder footing, financially, than either of their rivals.

And, with Luis Suarez and Joao Felix combining well in attack, the three-time losing finalists may not have a better chance of finally claiming their first Champions League title this season. As such, Oblak has no reason to think about moving on.

"Now is not the time to speak about transfers," his agent,Miha Mlakar, tellsGoal."Chelsea - Atletico is an important game.

"Chelsea are a new team with a new coach who have made some positive moves, but Atletico is always at their strongest in the most difficult games.

"They showed it against Liverpool last season. Atletico is Atletico and every team must be scared of them."

The daunting prospect of trying to find a way to score past one of the game's best goalkeepers would cause most strikers nightmares.


Source : goal.com

Recommended News :

Betting

Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2020-21

Sheffield United vs Liverpool Betting...

Liverpool have a prime opportunity to pick up their first Premier League win ...
Fernandes Manchester United 2021

Chelsea vs Manchester United Betting:...

Goalmouth action is likely to be thin on the ground when Chelsea welcome Manc...
Mason Mount Chelsea 2020-21

Chelsea vs Manchester United Betting ...

Thomas Tuchel will be aiming to extend his strong start to life as Chelsea ma...
Lucas Moura Gareth Bale Tottenham 2020-21

Tottenham vs Burnley Betting Tips: La...

Tottenhamare aiming to halt their negativerun of form in the Premier League w...
Youri Tielemans Harvey Barnes Leicester 2020-21

Leicester City vs Arsenal Betting Tip...

Leicester City will be looking to move into second place in the Premier Leagu...

Transfer

Tomori Alexis Sanches Milan Inter 2020

Maldini: Milan still evaluating possi...

Paolo Maldini, the Milan technical director, has sung the praises of Fikayo T...
Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2020-21

Klopp backs Salah to stay at Liverpoo...

Jurgen Klopp believes Mohamed Salah is fully committed to Liverpool in the lo...
Bruno Fernandes, Man Utd, Premier League 2020-21

Tuchel: We fought hard to sign 'indes...

Thomas Tuchel has revealed that he wanted to sign Bruno Fernandes at PSG befo...
David Alaba Bayern Munich 2020-21 Real Madrid

Kroos not playing agent for Real Madr...

Toni Kroos is not looking to act as an agent for Real Madrid in their reporte...
Ferland Mendy Real Madrid 2020-21

Juventus wanted 'Mbappe of left-backs...

Juventus wanted to sign Ferland Mendy before he joined Real Madrid, the defen...
image-top-scroll
`