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...