In the summer of 2018, or the Window of the Goalkeeper, a data analyst at a Premier League club was staggered by Chelsea’s world record purchase of Kepa Arrizabalaga in the position.
It wasn’t so much the £71m fee that spun his head, nor the fact that it was spent on such a young player with just two seasons of top-flight experience.
What perplexed him was the recruitment of a stopper who had not proven effective at claiming crosses, dealing with set-pieces, dominating his area, using his feet to make saves, short build-up play and had a tendency to rashly rush off his line when facing one v ones - at that cost, for a top team in England’s top flight.
For several who work in recruitment, the weaknesses in his game were a red flag for this league at a club with the highest expectations. His strengths - super quick reflexes, consistency in shot saving - and the billing as Spain’s best emerging keeper did little to mitigate their concerns.
For several managers past and present, his show of dissent in the 2019 Carabao Cup final was a point of no return. Regardless of his fee, of his age, of his desire to stay on, it undermined Maurizio Sarri, the technical staff and the squad.
But that, at least, was a sign of confidence in his abilities. He backed himself, albeit in the wrong manner. That kind of self-belief is a distant memory now, with Kepa walking onto the pitch expecting to falter in the knowledge that his manager and teammates are practically banking on it.
Body language on the pitch doesn’t lie and the psychological effects of this whole situation has superseded the footballing side: the keeper is struggling with the basics in fear of fudging up, again. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The mind rewinds to Frank Lampard discussing the decision to drop Kepa for Willy Caballero in the FA Cup final, saying of the Argentine: “we rely on him and we trust him.”
Those words cannot be used for the number one, which is why Edouard Mendy will imminently switch to Stamford Bridge from Rennes for £22m.
But what happened to Kepa? His first campaign in England was in keeping with his career averages. Last season, he saved only 54.5% of shots on target, which is the lowest figure for any regular keeper in the division since 2003-04.
Rob Green, who was at Chelsea during 2018-19, pins it down to an alteration in what Kepa has been asked to do which is in conflict with his game.
“The wholesale changes Frank Lampard made in the style of play from under Sarri was massive,” the former goalkeeper explained on Premier League TV. “I think there was a relationship breakdown in terms of Frank wanting to play a certain way and Kepa wasn’t willing to do it so much.
“It’s a difficult one because as a goalkeeper, you want to feel comfortable, you want to feel confident within the team, but when things change so much, you become uncomfortable in yourself. What he thrived in, I think that’s been taken away from him and the relationship between him and the manager and him and his teammates is fractured.
“At the end of last season, Willy Caballero was brought in, so they decided to make that change, but then in the matter of one game and in the space of weeks, it’s different again. That chopping and changing also doesn’t help. There isn’t that stability there, there isn’t continuity.”
Green highlighted two further problems: trying to regain form when everyone is waiting on you to err and while the opposition have made targeting you part of their arsenal.
On Sunday against Liverpool, Sadio Mane’s second was a product of the club’s attackers persistently putting pressure on the keeper’s goal kicks - a tactic Jurgen Klopp had revealed.
The opener was a combination of glorious movement from the Senegalese and Andreas Christensen not having any confidence that Kepa could deal with the situation.
The champions were also alert to the stopper’s habit of unnecessarily rushing out to chase a ball and he was lucky that Mohamed Salah didn’t profit from such a miscalculation in the first half.
Mendy’s arrival will remove Kepa from between the sticks, the spotlight and the firing line. The keeper that refused to come off will now be relieved not to have to pull on his gloves.
It is hard not to sympathise - this is a 25-year-old who has lost the art of what he is best at and has lost part of himself. Recovering that will be an almighty battle which needs to be fought in new surroundings where everyone - especially his own team - is not waiting for him to trip up.