Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is the latest player to be added to Spain’s ‘parallel training bubble’ ahead of Euro 2020, joining Pablo Fornals, Rodrigo Moreno, Carles Soler and Brais Mendez as those ready to step in should there be any last minute drop outs.
Spain’s concern appears to stem from Sergio Busquets testing positive for coronavirus and the possibility that a number of players could yet be forced to pull out in the final days before the tournaments starts if the situation gets any worse.
Busquets was immediately removed from the squad in order to isolate. His close contacts have remained at the team camp but are also in precautionary isolation.
No formal decisions have yet been taken over whether Busquets will have to pull out completely, but Spanish chiefs are arming themselves against the possibility by creating a bubble of match fit replacements training parallel to the squad.
Fornals, Rodrigo, Soler, Mendez and now Kepa are training in their own group completely separate to the current tournament squad, but any of them could theoretically move straight into the main group and be ready to go should there be any withdrawals in the next few days.
Kepa hasn’t been named in a Spain squad since November 2020. The Chelsea stopper appeared to be winning the battle with David de Gea to be named number one in 2019, but both have since been replaced by Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon.
Still the most expensive goalkeeper in history, he was only a back-up at club level in 2020/21 due to the arrival of Edouard Mendy at Stamford Bridge. The Spaniard played only 14 times in all competitions, with almost half of those appearances coming in the FA Cup.
Kepa’s absence from the national team set-up over the last nine months has also coincided with the sudden emergence of Robert Sanchez, who became Brighton’s number one last season.