It has not taken long for Kepa Arrizabalaga to win over Chelsea fans.
The goalkeeper is already regarded as a safe pair of hands by supporters and his teammates alike.
A summer signing from Basque side Athletic Club of Bilbao, he became the most expensive footballer in the history of the game for his position as he was brought in to replace Thibaut Courtois.
Not so long ago the idea of the Blues losing the Belgian shot-stopper caused supporters all sorts of concerns as he was linked with a return to Spain with Real Madrid.
Prior to taking Petr Cech’s places as the number one between the sticks at Stamford Bridge, Courtois spent three years on loan at Atletico Madrid.
During his first spell in La Liga he won the league title, the Copa Del Rey, the Europa League and finished as the runner up in the Champions League in 2014.
At Chelsea he lifted the Premier League title in 2015 and 2017 under Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte, respectively. However, he soon lost the support of fans who had once cheered him on as a hero when he pushed for his move to Real this summer.
The Belgian didn’t help his reputation in the stands by making comments after leaving Stamford Bridge that were taken as criticisms of the Blues.
Kepa has quickly taken to life in west London and is regarded by some of his advocates as a superior all-rounder to Courtois, and better able to play in Maurizio Sarri’s possession-based system.
He has also shown his excellent reactions as a shot-stopper to keep his goal protected when foes have managed to get through the Chelsea defence.
Supporters have honoured the 24-year-old with his own song that also takes as swipe at his predecessor between the posts for the Blues.
The chant is based on the tune of ‘Magic’ by the band Pilot, released in 1975. It’s a track that has since been released by Selena Gomez in 2009.
“Oh oh oh, it’s Kepa. You know.
“He’s better than f***ing Thibaut!”
Speaking after his departure from Chelsea, Courtois appeared to downplay the size and stature of his former club.
“In training, you see that the level is high,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, as translated by Sportwitness.
“I am now experiencing on a daily basis that Sergio Ramos is the best centre-back in the world. The level [at Real Madrid] is higher than at Chelsea.
“[The Santiago Bernabeu] is twice as big [as Stamford Bridge], of course, it’s a very different feeling.
“If you look forward you only see a wall of people, while at Stamford Bridge you can still see the sky or the hotel behind the grandstand.”
He also suggested that he would like to see Eden Hazard join Real Madrid in future.
Kepa on the other hand has spoken highly of Chelsea and why he joined the club on deadline day to replace Courtois.