Rumours come in waves, and often one is able to tell how much truth there is to one just by the sheer frequency with which it pops up.
Keeping an eye on the waters of the Chelsea rumour-sphere, we see one common theme in the last few weeks of internet gossip about who Frank Lampard’s team might be looking to sign in the summer.
Of course, Chelsea are linked to players in every position every day, but recent weeks have seen a theme developing.
Kepa’s unceremonious removal from the team this spring, and the lack of games with which he could reconfirm his form and status, has lead to a widespread belief that the club will move to bring in an alternative this summer.
The links have been to big names – seriously big names. Gigi Donnarumma, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, even 34 year old Manuel Neuer have all been the subject of recent rumours connecting them with summer switches to Stamford Bridge.
Well known players who play for well known clubs attract clicks (sorry Nick Pope) but just because we see the Blues linked with these big names doesn’t mean they’re coming – or that our strategy will see us sign that profile of player.
In the cases of Neuer and Ter Stegen, they are mid contract negotiations and want to spread the word that they’re wanted elsewhere to raise their value. Donnarumma seems more potentially available, but he would be expensive.
Just two years after paying a world record fee, it seems unlikely Chelsea will be willing to swallow a huge loss on Kepa. Assuming there is a seriously depressed market this summer, they won’t be able to get back even half of what they paid Athletic Bilbao for him.
A far more likely strategy is that the club give him another year to prove himself, and instead replace the out of contract Willy Caballero with a better option as a veteran alternative.
Then, they can see where they stand in a year, and at the very least hopefully sell Kepa with the monster fee they paid for him more of a distant memory.
There should be decent goalies in their 30s, ready to come and compete with Kepa, knowing he’s ripe to be unseated. There will also likely be clubs looking to sell if the current disruption continues, and there should be options from within the Premier League and the wider world.
Hugo Lloris might be on the market if Tottenham choose to upgrade, and there are players in La Liga with very modest release clauses who would love the opportunity to play in the Premier League, even without the guarantee of instant starts.
The situation of having so many clubs in limbo, and of having so many contracts looking set to run out before the end of the season, probably creates a very good opportunity for Chelsea to pick up a smart bargain.