Chelsea star Kepa Arrizabalaga apologizes to Maurizio Sarri over 2019 Carabao Cup final standoff
Speaking to the Players’ Tribune (h/t Daily Star), Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has apologized to former boss Maurizio Sarri over their public stand-off during the 2019 Carabao Cup final.
The Spaniard was then in his first season at the Bridge after making a world-record move for a goalkeeper in the summer of 2018. While he did eventually go on to win the Europa League that season, his antics in the League Cup final left a sour taste in the mouth.
Playing against Manchester City, the game ended goalless, heading into extra time. Sensing that the player was suffering from cramps, Sarri made the decision to replace him with Willy Caballero. Kepa, however, was having none of it and defiantly refused to come off.
“When the fourth official raised the board, clearly I should have come off, and I’m sorry I didn’t.”
What transpired were ugly scenes as Sarri was seen chaffing at his goalkeeper’s antics on the sideline. In the end, the Spaniard had his way and stayed on. He saved one penalty in the ensuing shootout as Chelsea lost 4-3 on the night.
Kepa has now revealed that the incident was all thanks to a misunderstanding. The player admits that he was in fact not suffering from cramps and was in actuality wasting time on purpose to take the game to penalties.
“I tried to signal that I was OK, that I wasn’t injured. But we were at Wembley in front of more than 80,000 people, so of course Sarri didn’t understand me.”
Kepa goes on to claim that unlike as portrayed in the media, he had a good relationship with Sarri even after the incident. He reiterated that there was no intention to undermine his coach and that it was just a case of being lost in translation.
Sarri lasted just one season at the Bridge and was replaced at the end of the 2018/19 campaign. Kepa too has since failed to develop as expected and is now no more the first-choice goalkeeper at the club.
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While Kepa is right to apologize, he should have had the sense to not behave the way he did that night at Wembley. Rather than gesticulate wildly and send the wrong message, he should have looked to relay the message to his manager. Either way, we are not sure that claiming to waste time puts him in any good light.
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