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Kepa dropped by Chelsea after Wembley row with Sarri

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Chelsea’s Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in London on February 27, 2019. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

Kepa Arrizabalaga has been dropped by Maurizio Sarri for Chelsea’s clash with Tottenham on Wednesday as the Blues goalkeeper paid the price for his refusal to be substituted during the League Cup final.

Sarri opted to replace Kepa with Argentine veteran Willy Caballero for the crucial London derby at Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea boss was furious when Kepa ignored his decision to take him off after the Spaniard required treatment for cramp in the closing stages of Sunday’s penalty shoot-out defeat against Manchester City at Wembley.

Kepa apologised for his mutinous behaviour and Sarri insisted it had been a “big misunderstanding”.

But the 24-year-old was still punished with a fine of one week’s wages by the Chelsea board on Monday before being axed for Wednesday’s Premier League showdown.

“I want to send a message to my group. The message could be: Kepa is on the pitch or Kepa is off the pitch. I have to decide what is better for my group. He made a mistake, a big mistake,” Sarri had said on Tuesday.

Kepa is the world’s most expensive keeper after joining Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao for £71 million ($94 million) last year.

It remains to be seen if his demotion is a one-match slap on the wrist from Sarri.

Failure to regain his place in the long-term may force the volatile Spaniard to demand a transfer.

Adding to the intrigue, reports on Wednesday claimed Kepa had also clashed with Caballero after the final — allegedly telling the former Manchester City star he was the better keeper.

With Kepa exiled to the bench, his deputy Caballero, who had been left embarrassed on the touchline while he waited in vain to come on during the astonishing Wembley bust-up, was handed a rare call-up.

The 37-year-old was making only his eighth appearance this season and his first in the Premier League since Sarri took charge in July.


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