THOMAS TUCHEL believes Kepa has the £71.6million monkey off his back.
Spaniard Kepa made his first Premier League appearance of the campaign in Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday after Edouard Mendy was ruled out with injury.
Tuchel has opted to keep Mendy — a £24m signing from Rennes last summer — as his No 1 this year, starting him in both the Prem and the Champions League already.
Yet Kepa is set to earn his second start in tonight’s Carabao Cup clash against Aston Villa — and could even feature against defending Prem champions Manchester City on Saturday as Mendy races to be fit.
Tuchel feels that Kepa’s desperation to impress and prove his worth after his world-record move for a goalkeeper from Athletic Bilbao in 2018 is long gone — and that can only be a good thing.
The German coach explained: “He seems happy to me in the place that he is and the part he plays in this team.
“He is pushing and he is fighting for his chances — but you cannot force situations.
“Now I have the feeling with his mindset that he is here, with the calmness and the positivity he trains with and he gets the rewards and it came to him.
“It was not necessary to prove to me he is a good keeper. I see this everyday.
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“He did not try too hard to convince everyone that he is worth the money the club paid.
“Who cares about the money? It was paid and so what now?
“Can we afford to have a keeper of that value on the bench, you ask?
“We have two super strong goalkeepers and we need both of them. If you need proof, look at last weekend. He was the key factor to a clean sheet. It’s as easy as that.
“If the money was too high or too low, these measurements do not exist for us.
“I have the feeling that this pressure is off his shoulders and it is well deserved because it is not his fault.”
With a crunch clash with City looming, this could be a chance for Tuchel to use more squad players and rotate for the visit of Villa.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ben Chilwell, Timo Werner and Ross Barkley are in serious need of game time.
But Tuchel added: “Everybody wants to have more minutes and yet we have contracts for 24 players.
“We simply cannot give everybody the same amount of minutes. This is the same for the outfield players.”
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