The impressive shot-stopper who may be on Chelsea's radar - if they move on from Robert Sánchez

Chelsea are one of several clubs linked with a newly-minted international goalkeeper - but should they move on from Robert Sánchez?
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Robert Sánchez’s debut season at Stamford Bridge has drawn distinctly mixed reviews, and there has been much hemming and hawing over whether Chelsea should look to move on this summer or stick with the Spaniard. According to a new report from Portuguese media outlet Globo, they may well have landed on the latter course of action.

They claim that Chelsea are one of five sides interested in Bento Krepski, the 24-year-old goalkeeper who recently made his debut for Brazil at Wembley in the 1-0 win over England. They aren’t the only Premier League side linked with a bid – an eclectic list of suitors also includes Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, Inter Milan and Benfica.

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Still based in his homeland and playing with Athletico Paranaense, Bento established himself as first choice during the 2022 season and was outstanding almost from the start, putting up exceptional shot-stopping numbers and keeping 20 clean sheets in Série A over the last two seasons. But while he has a burgeoning CV behind him, signing him would represent a definite departure for Chelsea.

Where both Sánchez and his understudy, Đorđe Petrović, are sweeper-keepers who routinely come out of their penalty area to make interventions, Bento prefers to stay put – current Chelsea number one Sánchez comes out of his area two-and-a-half times as often as Bento does, and is, on average, more than four yards further downfield when he makes a clearance or tackle. That's a big difference and shows one goalkeeper willing to charge off his line to make a play, and another who will stay put nearly every time.

Bento is a much more traditional type of stopper who stays home and lets his defenders do the defending. He isn’t an especially accomplished passer of the ball, either, and prefers to launch it long when in possession – last season, more than 40% of his passes were launched downfield. In 2022, it was over 50%. Perhaps that indicates that he’s becoming a little more comfortable with the ball, but he’s still not exactly the kind of ‘keeper who suits having a high pressing defence in front of him. He isn’t going to try to clean up balls over the top or beat the counter-press.

What he is good at is saving shots. Both Sánchez and Petrović have relatively low save percentages and have conceded more goals than they’ve faced xG over the past year, for Chelsea or the previous clubs. Bento, by comparison, has a very healthy 78% save rate – that’s higher than anybody in the Premier League this season, albeit at a slightly lower level of competition. Based off xG, he’s also been worth around 6.5 goals to his team since establishing himself as well. Those are very strong numbers indeed.

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Much of this is due to some excellent positioning and a good reach – at 6’3” tall and with a big leap on him, he’s strong against crosses and judges the high ball well. Only six goalkeepers in the Premier League deal with high crosses more frequently than he does – one of whom, admittedly, is Sánchez.

So basically, he’s an excellent goalkeeper but wouldn’t necessarily suit a club playing a high line – and under Mauricio Pochettino, they do typically play that way, even if the defensive line doesn’t tend to come quite so far forward as it did when he managed Tottenham Hotspur. So signing Bento would either indicate a change of direction or an unusual and possibly awkward clash between his style of play and the system.

In terms of finances, Bento won’t be available for pennies. Globo report that both Benfica and Inter Milan have made bids in the past, with Inter’s the highest at €15m (£12.8m) – both were rejected. Now that he’s picked up a couple of caps for Brazil, his stock could continue to rise, too.

A clean sheet on debut against England won’t reduce his price tag, and while he did ship three in a thrilling draw against Spain a few days later, he also made several superb saves and received warm reviews for his performance. He probably won’t be ousting Ederson and Alisson from the top of the pecking order just yet, but he’s made a good start to life as an international and hinted that he can cut it at the highest level.

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Still, he’s unlikely to cost as much as either Ederson or Alisson either, so the question really is whether Chelsea can afford to splash a mid-sized transfer fee on a goalkeeper when there are other issues to address within the squad, and whether they want to move on from Sánchez. The Brighton man matches the squad stylistically but he’s had some pretty tough games, and there are valid question marks over whether he has the shot-stopping skills to be good enough for a team with pretentions on a return to European competition.

Perhaps it will all come down to whether they can address other pressing needs on a budget, but it doesn’t seem that Sánchez is the biggest worry that Chelsea have right now. A genuine number nine is top of the shopping list, and some reinforcements for the defence are likely too – and if they do end up selling Conor Gallagher, they’ll need an extra midfielder to cover the loss. All of that, surely, comes before a new goalkeeper, especially one who may not line up well with what Pochettino needs. Then again, who knows whether the Argentine will still be in charge next season?