Chelsea has fined Kepa Arrizabalaga a week’s wages following his refusal to be substituted in the Carabao Cup final.
Both the club’s $92.8 million record signing and manager Maurizio Sarri have played down the “misunderstanding” over the Spaniard’s protracted substitution that ended with Sarri tearing off his club jacket and threatening to walk down the tunnel after his goalkeeper refused to leave the field of play.
The attempted replacement, which left second-choice goalkeeper Willy Caballero motionless on the touchline in full kit, came as a result of Kepa’s cramp, which had already seen him go down with the injury twice in extra time.
In a statement on the club’s official website, Kepa said: “I was very happy to play in my first cup final for Chelsea yesterday and very proud of the team performance. I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events.
“Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. I wanted to take the time today to apologize fully and in person to the coach, to Willy [Caballero], my teammates and to the club.
“I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.”
Chelsea said Kepa’s fine would be donated to the Chelsea Foundation.
Sarri, who made Kepa his second major signing at Chelsea after the $67 million purchase of Jorginho, added that the pair had spoken to clear the air.
He said: “It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding [on Sunday], but he realizes he made a big mistake in the way he reacted. He has apologized to me, his teammates and the club.
“It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed. The team performance as a whole was extremely positive, and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive cup final. Everyone’s focus is now on the next game and we must all now put this behind us.”
While Kepa would go on to save Leroy Sane’s penalty after a goalless 120 minutes between the teams, he failed to stop a weak strike from Sergio Aguero from squirming under his body, with City winning 4-3 in the shootout.
The win leaves it one trophy down, three to go for City, who are chasing a domestic and continental quadruple.