CHELSEA thought they had secured a goalkeeper for the long-term when they shelled out £71million to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao back in 2018.
The Blues had let themselves be left in limbo as Thibaut Courtois’ contract talks stalled.
When it became abundantly clear that the lanky Belgian was to sign for Real Madrid, Chelsea desperately needed a new goalkeeper.
And the rest of Europe knew it.
So, believing Kepa to be their man, Chelsea matched his hefty release clause and brought the Spaniard to Stamford Bridge.
But the 25-year-old has disappointed in West London – even being dropped by Frank Lampard for a chunk of 2020.
While he had regained his place in the starting XI just prior to the suspension of football, the Blues will still be looking at other options to replace their flappy No1.
And we take a look at five that could replace Kepa between the sticks.
1) Andre Onana
The 6ft 3in stopper was spotted by the Samuel Eto’o academy as a child, before making the move to Barcelona’s La Masia in 2010.
Five years later he switched again to Ajax, swiftly becoming first-choice in Amsterdam just a year later.
At 24 he is young for a goalkeeper – and has shown great potential with his superb reflexes and ability to save one-on-ones.
Chelsea fans will want to forget Onana’s Champions League semi-final mistake against rivals Tottenham, however, when his fumble allowed Lucas Moura to score.
But they will be heartened by the fact that he is now reportedly willing to snub advances from Spurs in favour of a transfer to Stamford Bridge.
2) Manuel Neuer
At 34, Manuel Neuer is still one of the all-time great goalkeepers.
The German has been a pillar for Bayern Munich over the last nine seasons.
A move away from the Allianz Arena had seemed unthinkable… until the Bavarians sealed a move for Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel to arrive in the summer.
That is believed to have upset Neuer – who wants a five-year contract extension if he is to stay in Munich.
Chelsea could pounce on the fall-out to sign one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the game.
3) Dean Henderson
Manchester United academy graduate Dean Henderson has impressed in his debut season in the Premier League.
On loan at Sheffield United, the 6ft 2in stopper has played a big part in the Blades’ outstanding defensive record that has seen them defy the odds to compete for a Champions League place.
Many feel that the 23-year-old deserves a chance at Old Trafford.
But with David de Gea having signed a new contract back in September, Henderson’s first-team path appears blocked.
Frank Lampard could pounce to sign the young England hopeful from the Red Devils.
4. Gianluigi Donnarumma
Despite being just 21, Gianluigi Donnarumma has been on the radar for quite some time now.
Having broken through to the AC Milan first-team at just 16, the Italian was notable for his composure and his enormous 6ft 5in frame.
Donnarumma has already made 190 appearances for the San Siro giants – as well as picking up 16 caps for the Azzurri.
Milan may cash in on their star academy graduate, however, with the club in need of some quick cash.
Chelsea could offer them a solution – however the keeper’s agent Mino Raiola may be a stumbling block – with the Blues reluctant to deal with the Italian.
5) Nick Pope
Set to be vying with Dean Henderson to grab Jordan Pickford’s England place, Pope has had another fine season for Burnley.
The 27-year-old didn’t play a single Premier League match last season, after suffering from a horrendous shoulder injury.
But the Clarets star has picked up where he left off this term, making brilliant save-after-save and playing a big part in his side keeping their heads above water.
To sign Pope, Chelsea may have to battle with rivals Spurs who are also reportedly eyeing the Three Lions hopeful.