Chelsea misfit Kepa Arrizabalaga claims he never wanted to leave the club and is no longer afraid of the battle to win his place back.
The Spain goalkeeper was frozen out under Frank Lampard after a poor run of form but no buyers came forward to rescue him from his Stamford Bridge misery.
And Kepa is now back in action under new boss Thomas Tuchel, who started him in wins over Barnsley in the FA Cup and Newcastle in the Premier League.
The £71m man kept clean sheets in both games and is back putting pressure on Chelsea No 1 Edouard Mendy.
Speaking to Spanish radio station COPE, Kepa said: “Deep down I knew I could do it. Now I am not scared. I want to feel more important and I am working for it.
“I haven’t let it get to me. Now I am feeling good after the inactivity. I have never thought about leaving Chelsea.”
The Blues paid what was a world record fee for a keeper to sign Kepa from Athletic Bilbao in August 2018.
He went on to help them win the Europa League in 2019 but a series of high-profile errors and a crisis of confidence led to doubts about his long-term future.
Lampard insisted Chelsea bring in a new No 1 this season, with Mendy now firmly installed in that position.
But Tuchel claims Kepa will get more chances to play this season and the 26-year-old is determined to take them.
He said: “From 0 to 10 happy, I’m 7.5. Three months ago, I was a little less happy because of the football issue.
“Outside of football I am well within the situation that we have had to live. It is a complicated year in every way.
“I rely on my family, on trustworthy people, more than anything. I want to turn it around, start playing more, feel better and look to the future. I want to be here.
“This is my third season. In a very good season, we won the Europa League, the team qualifies for the Champions League and I’m playing for the national team.
“The second year we changed coaches. With Lampard there has been no problem.
“I would have not given my better version. In the end it is true that I have not played as much as I wanted to play. I have no problem with it.
“Hopefully in this time I can play more. What I want is to feel important at Chelsea, get back in goal and enjoy myself.”
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