Thomas Tuchel has told Kepa Arrizabalaga to not put too much pressure on himself as he bids to take advantage of a “new start” under the German.
Kepa became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea from LaLiga outfit Athletic Bilbao for a reported £71.6million (€80m) two years ago.
However, the 26-year-old’s unreliable form in the past year saw his place come under threat and he has now been usurped as Chelsea’s number one goalkeeper by Edouard Mendy, who was signed from Rennes in September.
Kepa has started both of Chelsea’s FA Cup games this season and Tuchel confirmed he will once again be between the sticks for the Blues’ fifth-round clash at Barnsley on Thursday.
Tuchel, who has overseen three wins in four Premier League games since replacing Frank Lampard in January, has challenged Kepa to forget his struggles so far in England and wants him to start afresh under his tutelage.
“We had a view on his situation and some difficulties on the sporting side,” Tuchel said.
“Maybe, also, the circumstances of his transfer are a little bit on his shoulders. The good thing for him is that this is a new start for him because I don’t have a history with him.
“It is a special position. If you do make mistakes, everybody sees it and talks about it so you need a lot of mental strength and quality. I see this in all of the three goalkeepers. I absolutely believe [Kepa can turn it around].
“This is an opportunity [against Barnsley] and hopefully he does not want to overachieve. I want him to play a normal match. He does not have to show me or anybody else that he is ready to be Spain’s number one.”
Chelsea are aiming to claim their first FA Cup win against Barnsley, having lost to the Yorkshire outfit in their two previous meetings in the competition in 1989 and 2008.