Chelsea will be without Edouard Mendy during a pivotal time in their season following the start of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 29-year-old faced off against compatriot Sadio Mane in the club’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool last week before they joined up with the Senegal team.
Mendy has excelled since moving to west London in 2020, but now Kepa Arrizabalaga will be tasked with performing between the sticks.
But how long willthe £72million Spaniard be Thomas Tuchel’s No1 at Stamford Bridge with Mendy missing? talkSPORT.com has all the details…
When does Afcon 2021 take place?
The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations is scheduled to take place in Cameroon from Sunday, January 9 to Sunday, February 6.
The opening and closing matches of the competition are set to be played at the new 60,000-seat Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.
Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria are AFCON’s defending champions, having won back in 2019 after beating Mendy’s Senegal 1-0 in the final.
However, Mendy missed out on playing in that game having suffered an injury during the group-stages back in 2019.
How many games will Mendy miss for Chelsea?
Mendy could miss out on up to five games for the Blues in all competitions if Senegal makes it all the way to the final.
Over the next month, Chelsea play in three different competitions with Mendy set to miss vital Premier League clashes against Manchester City and Tottenham.
He will also miss both legs of the Carabao Cup semi-finals with Spurs as well as the FA Cup third round fixture with Chesterfield.
Chelsea have a break at the end of January before heading to Abu Dhabi for the Club World Cup.
The semi-final is set to take place three days after the AFCON final, and Tuchel revealed Mendy and Hakim Ziyech would both be available.
Tuchel said: “As I understand it, they will both be back even if they play in the final. They will both be in Abu Dhabi I guess.”
Ziyech was then surprisingly left out of Morocco’s squad for AFCON and will be part of Chelsea’s squad for the next month of games that Mendy will miss.
Maximum games Mendy could miss
January 5, 2022 – Chelsea vs Tottenham (EFL Cup)
January 8, 2022 – Chelsea vs Chesterfield (FA Cup)
January 12, 2022 – Tottenham vs Chelsea (EFL Cup)
January 15, 2022 – Manchester City vs Chelsea (Premier League)
January 23, 2022 – Chelsea vs Tottenham (Premier League)
What has been said?
Tuchel praised Kepa for his performances this season after he initially struggled with becoming the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.
“I am very happy in general. Happy is maybe not the right word, but I am super impressed with Kepa,” he said.
“It is not a surprise anymore because he is in the state of mind as a person, a character and a 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 and Kepa is a big part of it.”