Is Andre Onana the ideal Kepa Arrizabalaga replacement?
The curious case of Kepa Arrizabalaga seems to have carried on through yet another season. The Spaniard has been abysmal, to say the least, this campaign, forcing Chelsea to go on the lookout for another goalkeeper in the summer.
The Blues have several targets on their wishlist, with Ajax’s Andre Onana becoming the #1 choice for the majority of Chelsea fans on Twitter.
The issue? Not many have watched him in action often enough. 75% of his backers have not seen him play regularly, while 20% have only seen him in the Champions League. The other 5%? Well, they’ve just hopped onto the bandwagon for the time being.
Just to clear things up; the aforementioned numbers are made up but we’ll never know what the reality is. Last night, I sent out a tweet saying Onana, in my opinion, is not the upgrade Chelsea need.
Since then, I have been hit with a barrage of stats from people accusing me of drawing conclusions based on a video of Onana’s errors, which I have can safely say I’ve not even come across. The majority of the replies on my tweet suggested that Chelsea should pursue the Ajax star as he is statistically better than Arrizabalaga.
However, stats do not always paint the entire picture and can sometimes be misleading.
Statistically speaking, Kepa has not made a single error that’s led to a goal in the last two seasons. However, it is clear to people who have watched Chelsea play just how many of the goals conceded by the Blues were down to his mistakes.
I’m going to break things down into the 4 key characteristics needed in a modern-day goalkeeper:
The most important aspect of goalkeeping, without a doubt, and something Kepa has failed miserably at this season for Chelsea.
However, this is an area where Onana has really impressed. I would even go as far as to compare him to Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas, with his excellent reflexes and strong hand among his most valued attributes.
This is another area where Kepa seems to be lacking. From open play to set pieces, the Chelsea keeper always seems to be out of position – either out of his own volition or due to the presence of an opposition player.
Onana seems to have a similar problem dealing with corners and freekicks. He often finds himself in a poor spot, especially from corners; he is either too close to the posts or left stranded in the middle of the 6-yard box. He also often comes off his line to punch the ball but without much success.
Onana’s tendency to rush off his line in an attempt to close down attackers has been effective in the Eredivisie but could lead to his downfall in the Premier League. The quality of strikers in England’s top-flight means he is very likely to be chipped or simply dribbled past.
This is an area where both keepers have struggled. Onana and Kepa have shown they are not great at judging the flight of the ball and often fail to convincingly get their hands on crosses.
Onana tends to avoid catching the ball from crosses, instead choosing to punch it away. However, he often sends them right back into the danger area and not out for corners, which is an issue Chelsea face with Kepa as well.
Long shot saves
Kepa’s struggles to judge shots from outside the box have been a major cause for concern for Chelsea. The Spaniard looks nervy and often leaves it late to get into a position to make a save. This holds true for Onana as well.
However, despite his poor technique, the Cameroonian has often managed to pull off saves, which is why he could be an improvement on Kepa.
Overall, Onana seems to be a slight upgrade on the current Chelsea keeper. However, considering the gulf in class between the Premier League and the Eredivisie, it would be fair to consider the two at the same level, meaning Chelsea will be on the lookout for another goalkeeper two years down the line.
While I do feel Onana would be a better signing than Kepa, the question remains whether he is the upgrade Chelsea actually need at the moment? Replacing an error-prone keeper with a slightly less error-prone keeper is not the answer.
To prove that YouTube videos of players are never good to form judgments, here is a video I came across comparing the two players: