Chelsea Dressing Room Divided As Kepa Is Fined Over Refusal To Go Off In Carabao Cup Final With Willy Caballero Angry While Others Back Stopper As Heat Grows On Maurizio Sarri

Maurizio Sarri stands by Willy Caballero in Chelsea training the day after the league cup final

Kepa Arrizabalaga has issued an apology to Maurizio Sarri and his Chelsea team-mates after refusing to be substituted during Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final.

The Spanish goalkeeper – who has been fined a week’s wages for appearing to disobey manager Sarri in declining to come off for Willy Caballero at Wembley – left some team-mates furious for not following instructions, serving to cause further splits in the camp. 

And Arrizabalaga has now apologised for his actions, saying in a statement: ‘I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events. Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. 

‘I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club.

‘I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.’

The swift action taken by Chelsea should serve to placate an incident that had potential to rapidly escalate.

Indeed, Sportsmail understands Arrizabalaga’s actions had risked causing more damaging splits in the Chelsea dressing room.

Sportsmail understands Caballero, who was due to come on for the Chelsea No 1, was particularly angry at his colleague’s actions at Wembley.

But as some players side with Caballero and Sarri, other members of the Blues squad are backing Arrizabalaga.

Stamford Bridge chiefs have gone into overdrive over the past 24 hours to prevent the controversy from mirroring the public feud between former boss Antonio Conte and ex-striker Diego Costa in 2017.

The furore has similarities with a training ground row between Costa and Conte in January 2017, which provoked a feud between the pair and ended with the striker leaving for Atletico Madrid.

Chelsea chiefs are working to prevent similar damage being caused by Arrizabalaga’s controversial behaviour – even though sources insisted on Monday that the Sarri’s decision to bring on Caballero was tactical, and not injury-related.

Despite appearing to be undermined, Sarri still held crisis talks with Arrizabalaga at Wembley late on Sunday night.

The club also held further discussions with the £72million goalkeeper on Monday while they also discussed the issue with his representatives.

Sarri’s own future is under huge threat, but it is understood Sunday’s row will not have any bearing on whether the board decide to sack him after tomorrow’s clash against Tottenham.

In seeking to draw a line under the controversy, Sarri said: ‘Kepa and I have spoken about the incident. It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding yesterday but he realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted.

‘He has apologised to me, his team-mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed.’   

Meanwhile, Sarri’s fiercely superstitious nature led Chelsea to abandon their usual pre-Wembley luxury for a functional business hotel on the A40 which boasts of its location adjacent to the nearby Park Royal industrial estate. 

Chelsea prepared for Wembley by staying at the Park Plaza near Hanger Lane. It may not offer the opulence of the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone where Chelsea have often stayed but it satisfied the idiosyncrasies of their Italian manager.

Sarri is so superstitious he does not like to return to the same hotel if his team has lost after staying there and this was Chelsea’s fourth defeat at Wembley during his seven months in charge.

Chelsea lost to Manchester City in the Community Shield and have been beaten twice by Tottenham, in the Premier League and Carabao Cup semi-final. 


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