Chelsea having Brighton's third-choice goalkeeper Robert Sanchez as their No.1 isn't good enough! Seven better options to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga

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The Blues are making a big error by handing the No.1 shirt to the Spain international rather than strengthening between the sticks

Robert Sanchez has fallen upwards in a manner that even he surely couldn't have imagined. The Spaniard slipped to third choice in Brighton's goalkeeping pecking order this summer, having lost the faith of manager Roberto De Zerbi in March. Fast-forward five months, however, and he finds himself as Chelsea's main man between the sticks.

On the south coast, increasing errors, De Zerbi's preference for veteran Luke Steele and Sanchez's own petulance saw him become a pariah, as he eventually demanded to be excluded from matchday squads altogether at the backend of 2022-23.

The 25-year-old was initially signed by Chelsea to be a backup to Kepa Arrizabalaga, but his compatriot's surprise loan move to Real Madrid has opened the door to Sanchez - who has quite literally taken the No.1 shirt. It has been reported that the west Londoners will stick with him as their starting goalkeeper, too, with just £20 million ($25m) set aside for a new second choice.

In truth, while he was improved last season, Chelsea shouldn't have been entering the new campaign with even Kepa as first choice. Despite the new ownership's spending on new players closing in on £1 billion ($1.3bn), the goalkeeper position has been neglected.

Having Brighton's third choice as No.1 simply isn't good enough for a club of the Blues' stature, and it's a decision that could well come back to haunt them. Indeed, Sanchez ranked 19th out of Premier League goalkeepers in shot-stopping last season, with a post-shot xG minus goals allowed (the most reliable metric for measuring shot-stopping ability) of -2.8.

New head coach Mauricio Pochettino has intimated that the club is open to all eventualities when it comes to a new goalkeeper. "We are thinking to explore all the situations and possibilities in the market. The club is open to assess all options," he said in a press conference. As such, GOAL runs through seven players who would be more worthwhile...

  1. Diogo Costa (Porto)

    Diogo Costa (Porto)

    Portugal's No.1 Diogo Costa was widely expected to replace David de Gea at Manchester United, but they went for Inter's Andre Onana instead. Porto's Costa is the archetypal modern goalkeeper in that he is almost as good with the ball at his feet as he is with his hands. He even boasts two-footedness with his kicking, enabling him to evade pressure from attackers better than most.

    The 23-year-old kept 20 clean sheets in 41 appearances in 2022-23 with a 74% save percentage in the league. He also had an outstanding post-shot xG minus goals allowed of +6.1.

    However, it is likely Porto's £66 million ($84m) price tag that caused United to look elsewhere. Despite recent links with the player, the outcome could be the same for Chelsea.

  2. Georgi Mamardashvili (Valencia)
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    Georgi Mamardashvili (Valencia)

    Another 'keeper who has been linked with both Chelsea and Manchester United in recent times is Georgi Mamardashvili, who could be a perfect fit for the Blues in terms of someone who could challenge and possible replace Sanchez as No.1 without breaking the bank.

    The shot-stopper is just 22 and has enjoyed a meteoric rice at Valencia having been signed for the club's B team in 2021. Though his distribution needs some work, his agility, reactions and command of his penalty area are impressive.

    His post-shot xG minus goals allowed of -0.1 in 2022-23 is slightly less encouraging in terms of his shot-stopping, but he was part of a struggling Valencia side.

  3. Jordan Pickford (Everton)

    Jordan Pickford (Everton)

    It has been said that Pochettino wants a core of players with Premier League experience to form the spine of his new-look Chelsea side, and Jordan Pickford would provide that in abundance.

    Although he recently signed a new contract, Pickford must be conscious that he needs to be playing at a higher level after two relegation dogfights with Everton, and eventually in the Champions League, with Arsenal's Aaron Ramsdale breathing down his neck in the England squad.

    Though he is prone to a high-profile rush of blood to the head, Pickford's distribution is exceptional. His post-shot xG minus goals allowed of +3 in 2022-23 is a reflection of just how important he was in staving off relegation for the Toffees, as he ranked fifth out of Premier League goalkeepers in terms of shot-stopping.

  4. Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund)

    Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund)

    One of the names mentioned in dispatches as a possible replacement for Kepa, Switzerland international Gregor Kobel has proven to be a shrewd acquisition for Borussia Dortmund, who signed him from Stuttgart in 2021.

    Despite his towering 6'4 frame, it's Kobel's agility and ability at close quarters that make him an outstanding goalkeeper. He finished the 2022-23 campaign with an impressive post-shot xG minus goals allowed of +2.8 in the Bundesliga as Dortmund pushed Bayern Munich all the way.

    Indeed, he shone in the Champions League last 16 against Chelsea last season, with his manager Edin Terzic saying after his exceptional first-leg display in a 1-0 victory: "We know one thing for sure: whenever the going gets tough, we can count on Gregor Kobel."

  5. Emi Martinez (Aston Villa)

    Emi Martinez (Aston Villa)

    Another option who would bring Premier League experience, as well as a World Cup winner's medal, Emi Martinez's unlikely emergence as one of the world's finest goalkeepers has seen his stock soar in recent months, and it may prove difficult to prize him away from a club that has shown serious ambition this summer in Aston Villa.

    The renowned sh*thouse ranked sixth among Premier League goalkeepers for shot-stopping, with his post-shot xG minus goals allowed of +2.6 last season.

    The chance to link up with compatriot Pochettino at Stamford Bridge could be too tempting to pass up, although he would come at a cost, with a £40m+ (£51m) price tag.

  6. Mike Maignan (AC Milan)
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    Mike Maignan (AC Milan)

    Possibly a pipe dream for Chelsea, especially after it was reported that he has no interest in joining a club that isn't competing in the Champions League, but Mike Maignan would be the ideal No.1. The 28-year-old has emerged as arguably the world's best goalkeeper, shining in AC Milan's 2021-22 Scudetto win in particular, and taking Hugo Lloris' starting place for France following the World Cup winner's international retirement.

    Maignan's shop-stopping ability is second to none and he has defied physics with some of his saves, while his ball-playing ability means he is adept at stepping out from his goal as a pseudo third centre-back.

    One of Milan's secret weapons is his pinged diagonal pass to flying winger Rafael Leao, as the opposition midfield is taken out of the equation and Leao is immediately set one-on-one with his defender.

    It seems it would take a hell of a lot to convince Milan to sell and Maignan to make the switch, but Chelsea's transfer negotiators have demonstrated their powers of persuasion plenty of times in the recent past.

  7. Dean Henderson (Manchester United)

    Dean Henderson (Manchester United)

    An outside bet, but Dean Henderson would likely come cheap and could eventually usurp Sanchez as No.1. The England international endured a frustrating 2022-23 campaign on loan at Nottingham Forest as his season was curtailed by a thigh injury, before which he had impressed at times despite being given limited protection by a leaky backline.

    It would perhaps be a gamble, but the 26-year-old has all the tools to succeed in the right environment as he approaches his prime, including that strong ball-playing ability that every club wants from their goalkeeper in the modern era.

    Whether Manchester United will finally let him go, and to a top-four rival, remains to be seen.