THOMAS TUCHEL has revealed his joy at Kepa Arrizabalaga's surge in confidence – with the Spaniard set to replace Edouard Mendy.
The £71.6million goalkeeper, 27, has largely struggled following his 2018 move from Athletic Bilbao.
As well as his Carabao Cup final stand-off with Maurizio Sarri, a spate of blunders left fans, pundits and even former boss Frank Lampard criticising Kepa.
But, Tuchel has been 'reviving Kepa's confidence behind the scenes', according to Goal.
The Spaniard has been thriving in training and impressed during the Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Brentford.
And his uptick in form – as well as confidence – has left Tuchel ecstatic, particularly with the Blues set to lose Mendy to the Africa Cup of Nations next month.
The tournament runs between January 9 and February 6 – but players may be out longer due to travel either side.
Despite that, a thrilled Tuchel revealed: "I am super impressed with Kepa.
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"It is not a surprise anymore because he is in the state of mind as a person, character and sportsman where he just delivers for us because he does what he does best.
"This is what he shows every day in training and this is why he gets the reward.
"I am absolutely sure that this is the reason why he has these kinds of performances.
"I am super happy, we need him in this kind of shape.
"The goalkeepers are a strong group. Kepa is a big part of it and Kepa was a big factor today, in the first half especially."
In October, Kepa revealed he was feeling good again under Tuchel – following criticism from the German's predecessor, Lampard.
The Spaniard claimed: "I feel more relaxed in everything now.
"I feel everything is going in the right way, and confident.
"I’ve felt my confidence is high again."
Kepa could be in for a big run of games, too – with matches coming thick and fast early in 2022.
Chelsea will play at least six times in January, including games with title-chasing Liverpool and Manchester City, as well as three matches against Tottenham – one in the Prem and both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The Blues will then fly to the United Arab Emirates in February for the Club World Cup.
With Mendy expected to be absent, Kepa could become a key figure in the coming weeks.
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