London (AFP) – Frank Lampard has revealed Chelsea’s new goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is not ready to make his debut in Saturday’s Premier League clash at West Bromwich Albion.
Mendy joined Chelsea from French club Rennes on a five-year contract this week, strengthening Lampard’s goalkeeping options following Kepa Arrizabalaga’s dismal form.
Kepa is the world’s most expensive keeper but has rarely lived up to his £72 million ($91 million) price tag since arriving from Athletic Bilbao in 2018.
The Spaniard’s costly mistakes are likely to see him replaced by Senegal international Mendy and he could even leave Chelsea in a loan deal before the transfer window closes in October.
But Lampard believes it is asking too much to give Mendy his first taste of English football following a hectic week in which he has hardly trained.
That leaves the door open for Kepa, who was at fault for goals in Chelsea’s first two Premier League games against Brighton and Liverpool, to be handed one last chance to save his job.
Lampard, who could also select Argentine veteran Willy Caballero against West Brom, told reporters on Friday: “Mendy to start tomorrow is not going to happen. He’s had a long week where he hasn’t trained.
“He flew in yesterday, it just feels too tight of a turnaround to put him in contention to start the game.”
Mendy’s £22 million move could well spell the end of Kepa’s reign as Chelsea’s number one.
Lampard is yet to hold a face-to-face meeting with the 25-year-old about his future, but will discuss his plans with Kepa and Caballero in the coming days.
“I have a very open line of communication with both of them,” he said. “The goalkeepers have their own small union at the training ground because of the way they work together.
“There is good competition there now and that is how we move forward.”
– ‘Winning mentality’ –
After spending around £220 million to revamp his squad, Lampard has seen several of his players linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge.
Jorginho is reportedly a target for Arsenal, while Antonio Rudiger is said to be interesting Paris Saint-Germain.
Lampard said there were no plans to offload anyone at present, adding: “Every one will be a case-by-case situation. At the moment players remain ours.”
Lampard will take Chelsea to the Hawthorns without Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech, who are both expected back in a week or two after injuries.
But he will be able to give Premier League debuts to close-season signings Thiago Silva and Ben Chilwell after the pair featured in Wednesday’s League Cup win against Barnsley.
After Chelsea’s defensive struggles last season, Lampard needs a big impact from Brazil centre-back Silva and England left-back Chilwell.
“I’ve been very impressed with Thiago and Ben on and off the pitch,” he said. “They have both added to the dressing room. Thiago, albeit not speaking the language great, his winning mentality is something that comes across in gestures and actions rather than talking at the moment.
“With Ben in terms of character and how quickly he has settled in the dressing room, those have been really big positives for me.”
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