The League Cup is hardly the most famous tournament in the world, but Kepa Arrizabalaga sure raised its profile on Sunday.
The Chelsea goalkeeper refused to be substituted by manager Maurizio Sarri late in his side’s loss to Manchester City in the final, which prompted responses and criticism from all over the soccer landscape.
The harshest words came from former Blues striker Chris Sutton, who called Kepa a “disgrace.”
Kepa should never play for Chelsea again. That should be his last performance in a Chelsea shirt. He’s a disgrace.
I’ve never seen anything like it. If I was Sarri I would walk. You cannot be undermined. Why weren’t the players dragging Kepa off anyway?
… I still cannot believe what I have just seen. How can Kepa play for Chelsea again? How can he play for Sarri again? Something has to give. He has to go.
One of Chelsea’s legends, John Terry, didn’t go that far but registered his surprise to Sky Sports.
I’m surprised (Sarri) didn’t come on and force him to come off. … It puts a big cloud over a really good performance. If your number goes up you have to come off.
Where does that leave the rest of the Premier League players in the future? Do players start refusing to come off?
… It’s a difficult one for the players to go over and force him off, is it their duty and responsibility? Probably not. It’s the player’s responsibility to go off and accept it and deal with it tomorrow.
Longtime City defender Vincent Kompany, who played plenty of big games against Terry, made light of the incident.
“I wish I could do it every now and then when I don’t want to get subbed off,” he told the media.
Media members didn’t waste any time expressing their disaffection, either. Times Sport writer Henry Winter called the act “mutinous” in a tweet:
Arrizabalaga just walked across at full-time and shook Caballero’s hand. Mutinous act by the No 1 towards Sarri, refusing to come off when his coach demanded. You have to feel for Caballero. Plenty of pressure on Arrizabalaga in the shootout now.
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) February 24, 2019
Veteran media members Ian Darke and Phil McNulty also offered their views:
Amateurish from Kepa. Has embarrassed himself , his manager and his club. Very unfair on Sarri in his predicament.
— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) February 24, 2019
Kepa showed Sarri a total lack of respect and totally undermined his authority there. Rudiger did a good job restraining Sarri.
— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) February 24, 2019
Daily Mirror luminary John Cross provided a more positive spin on how Chelsea handled the situation involving the world’s most expensive goalkeeper:
Very significant that Chelsea are playing down Sarri-Kepa bust-up, they’re happy with performance today and response from players. This won’t affect Sarri’s future. In fact, they’re backing him.
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) February 24, 2019
But perhaps well-traveled writer Richard Jolly gave us the signature summation of Chelsea’s current makeup:
Chelsea’s signings under Sarri today:
Jorginho – Missed a penalty.
Higuain – Didn’t take a penalty.
Kepa – Refused to come off.
Kovacic – Couldn’t get on.
— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) February 24, 2019
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