Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support (Image: GETTY)

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was coy when asked about whether or not he plans to sign a new goalkeeper in the coming days, insisting that he’s “happy” with Kepa Arrizabalaga despite the questionable goal he conceded in Monday night’s 3-1 win over Brighton in their opening game of the 2020-21 Premier League season. Edouard Mendy is understood to be on the verge of joining Chelsea from Rennes and Lampard hinted that if a new keeper does sign, it will be to compete with Arrizabalaga rather than demote him to being No 2. 

Mendy is claimed to have been in London on Monday to undergo a medical ahead of a switch from Ligue 1 side Rennes which will cost Chelsea around £23million if all add-on clauses are exercised.

But Lampard says the 28-year-old shot-stopper will have to battle for the No 1 spot rather than immediately come in and replace Arrizabalaga.

The Spaniard, 25, has disappointed since his world-record £71.6m move from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2018 and was culpable for Brighton’s equaliser at the Amex Stadium.

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Leandro Trossard’s effort from the edge of the area was saveable but dipped beneath Arrizabalaga’s right hand to make it 1-1.

It is the 19th goal since his arrival in the Premier League that he has conceded from outside the box.

Chelsea, who took the lead through a Jorginho penalty won by debutant Timo Werner, responded immediately through a Reece James rocket from range before Kurt Zouma’s deflected effort sealed the three points.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support (Image: GETTY)

But Lampard refused to talk about Mendy, although he looks set to become Chelsea’s seventh new signing in the coming days.

“Not at the moment no, there’s obviously some weeks to go until the end of the squad,” he said when asked if there would be more fresh faces at Stamford Bridge imminently.

“We’ve got a big squad now so we need to manage that in terms of how we move forward, getting the right level of competition within the squad. No news on that one at the moment.

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“I am very happy with Kepa. I thought Kepa today, with the shot I’m not sure if he could’ve done any better but I saw a bit more confidence in how he was playing.

“I’m happy with him, Kepta is here, he is our keeper and I am happy with him. If we are bringing in competition, it will be competition.

“That’s the nature of Chelsea. That goes throughout the squad so we’ll see.”

Reacting to those comments, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano tweeted: “Lampard says he’s happy with Kepa… but Chelsea have already completed the signing of Edouard Mendy with Rennes as new GK. #CFC #Chelsea.”

While Lampard added of Chelsea’s performance against Brighton: “I thought we were OK. I really liked the work ethic and the discipline of the team.

“When you analyse the fact that we’ve been together pretty much as a team for four days, after the international break, we had a lot of quarantines before that, new signings, Kai Havertz comes in a week ago from another league.

“Same with Timo even though he has been with us for a while. To expect everything to click on day one is going to be very difficult.

“What they did do is show a little bit of determination today. I thought the two centre-backs were terrific in how they defended as well and that is maybe a game we might have dropped points in last year.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support (Image: EXPRESS SPORT)

“That’s not the end of the story, I’m not getting excited with that on day one but that had a little of determination and resilience about it, I thought.”

The Chelsea boss handed out debuts to Werner and £72m forward Havertz, with the former winning his side’s first-half spot-kick. Havertz was more subdued after only a week of training with his new team-mates.

“I liked Kai Havertz. It’s not a game where you come away with 10 vintage moments but there were moments of real quality and calmness,” Lampard reflected.

“It’s a big ask but there’s a lot on his shoulders with the signings that he was, the fact that he’s young coming to a different league. He plays the game at such a pace in terms of his quality and how he receives the ball, I thought you saw glimpses of that.

“We also saw him sprint back 80 yards to make a defensive tackle or an interception having given the ball away. Everything I have seen from him in terms of his character is spot on and his quality is going to come through.

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“It was asking a lot from him tonight but we saw glimpses, we’re going to see a lot more of him. He’s a hugely talented player.

“I love the way that Timo pops up in different areas.

“He’s not a front-man who attaches to centre-backs so much, sometimes he can start to become a little bit deeper but when he goes, he goes.”

“We saw that with the burst of pace because I thought with the penalty the ball was slightly overplayed and he still gets there.

“He has that about him and his real hunger to score goals and be ruthless in those areas. I thought we saw a lot of signs from Timo tonight of what he’s going to bring.”

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard drops Edouard Mendy transfer hint as he offers Kepa support (Image: GETTY)

But Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, reacting to Lampard’s comments on Arrizabalaga, suggested the Chelsea manager was hiding his real opinion on the Spain international.

“I don’t think he is. I wouldn’t be,” Neville said when asked if Lampard really is happy with his current first choice. 

“I know full well being in a coaching position, in a changing room, you have to back your keeper, you have to back your players.

“You have to support your players publicly but privately, that goal tonight, it’s a really poor goal to giveaway.

“He conceded so many goals from outside the box last season, he’s conceded another one tonight.

“It will cost you. If you don’t have a top goalkeeper you will not win that league and at the moment he makes far too many mistakes and lets far too many goals into the back of the net that should’ve been saved.” 

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