Kepa Arrizabalaga’s refusal to be substituted during Sunday’s Carabao Cup final dominated the back-pages of Britain’s newspapers on Monday morning.
The Chelsea goalkeeper’s number was displayed on the electronic board as Maurizio Sarri believed the Spaniard was carrying an injury.
With a penalty shoot-out against Manchester City a matter of minutes away, Sarri attempted to send Willy Caballero on in Kepa’s place.
However, Sarri was left incensed after Kepa refused to leave the field of play. The young ‘keeper insisted he was fine to continue and wouldn’t leave the pitch.
Referee Jon Moss was subsequently left with no choice but to allow play to continue – the FA’s Laws of the Game clearly state he did the right thing here, by the way – but Kepa was unable to help his team win the penalty shoot-out.
Both Kepa and Sarri attempted to play down the incident after the match, but many people still believe the goalkeeper was out of line for not listening to his manager.
Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton, for example, told BBC Sport, per Goal: “Kepa should never play for Chelsea again. That should be his last performance in a Chelsea shirt. He’s a disgrace. I’ve never seen anything like it.
“If I was Sarri I would walk. You cannot be undermined. Why weren’t the players dragging Kepa off anyway?
“Kepa should be sacked, not Sarri.”
However, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a player refuse to be substituted.
Back in October 2014, Lionel Messi – the player regarded by many as the greatest of all time – wouldn’t come off while playing for Barcelona in a 3-0 win over Eibar.
Luis Enrique, Barça’s manager at the time, attempted to bring off Messi for the final 15 minutes – in order to give him a bit of a rest – with the three points already safely in the bag.
However, Messi gesticulated that he wanted to stay on the field and continued to walk further up the pitch while ignoring his manager’s pleas.
Enrique, having decided it wasn’t worth the risk of angering the club’s star player, eventually sent on Munir El Haddadi but in place of Neymar rather than Messi.
Watch the incident here…
Like Sarri, Enrique tried to diffuse the incident in his post-match press conference, per ESPN, telling reporters at the time: “Before making changes, we generally ask the players and we make the decision afterwards.
“What happened can be interpreted many ways, depending on who it serves. I will carry on doing what I have been doing.
“I have to take everything into account, but I trust in how he feels and what he tells me.
“Sometimes I look around me on the bench and think how lucky we are to have Messi. For us it is not just about what he does on the pitch. He is also a great motivator for his teammates.”
No wonder many people think player power is out of control.