(Reuters) – Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has said new signing Edouard Mendy is the club’s first-choice goalkeeper ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga — for the moment.
Mendy returned to the starting lineup for Chelsea’s opening Champions League group game against Sevilla on Tuesday and kept a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw.
“The way he has played in the three games since being here, he’s played very well … So at the minute, yes,” Lampard told reporters when asked if Mendy was now first choice instead of Arrizabalaga, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper following his arrival from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 at a cost of 80 million euros (73 million pounds).
“I said when he came in it was good for competition. We knew his qualities and he’s showing them already.
“But that always remains something that is up for grabs, so that is why you have competition at clubs. The way he is playing I’m very happy.”
The inclusion of Petr Cech as fourth keeper in Chelsea’s Premier League squad raised some eyebrows, given the Czech retired from playing in 2019, but Lampard said it was part of their COVID-19 response planning.
The 38-year-old, who played for Chelsea from 2004-2015, would only be called into action in an emergency.
“We had that space in the squad and we know this year, it looks like no other because of COVID and isolation … We felt it was a no-brainer to have Pete in the squad,” Lampard added.
“He’s still relatively young. He finished playing when he possibly could have carried on … He trains fairly regularly and he is fit. Whether we will see him much this season, I am not sure.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)