Thursday 15 November 2018

Keeper Kepa completes big money move to Chelsea

Athletic Bilbao player wraps up £72.1million switch to Premier League club.

Kepa Arrizabalaga is apparently closing in on a move to Chelsea as Thibaut Courtois, pictured, heads to Spain (Nick Potts/PA Images)
Kepa Arrizabalaga is apparently closing in on a move to Chelsea as Thibaut Courtois, pictured, heads to Spain (Nick Potts/PA Images)

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Chelsea have made Kepa Arrizabalaga the world’s most expensive goalkeeper as Maurizio Sarri’s men swiftly moved to replace Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois.

Months of speculation surrounding the Belgium goalkeeper came to an end on Wednesday evening when it was announced that he would get his dream move to the Spanish capital.

The deal that sees Courtois join Real Madrid for a reported £35million sees midfielder Mateo Kovacic head the other way on a season-long loan.

But it is Chelsea’s move to replace their first-choice goalkeeper that is most eye-catching.

Kepa has signed a seven-year deal after joining from Athletic Bilbao, who confirmed earlier in the day that the 23-year-old’s release clause of 80million euros (£72.1m) was activated and his contract terminated.

The statement made no mention of Chelsea, but the move represents a world record for a goalkeeper, surpassing the £65m paid by Liverpool to Roma for Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker last month.

“It’s a very important decision for me, for my career, and also for my personal life,” Kepa told the club’s official website.

“So many things attracted me to the club, all the titles the club has won, the other players, the city, the English Premier League.

“It’s an accumulation of things, and I am very glad Chelsea has decided to trust me and to take me in as well.”

Kepa could make his Premier League debut against Huddersfield on Saturday after completing a deal that director Marina Granovskaia believes will be great for Chelsea.

“Kepa is a talent we have admired for a long time and we are extremely excited about his arrival,” she said.

“He has already demonstrated fantastic quality and consistency and will be a big part of any success Chelsea have in the coming years.

“His long-term contract reflects the belief we have in him and we look ahead to the coming seasons with an enormous sense of optimism.”

The seven-year deal certainly puts Chelsea in a position of strength which had been lacking with outgoing Courtois.

With just a year remaining on his contract, the 26-year-old had been absent from training this week as he looked to push through a move before the transfer window ended for Chelsea on Thursday.

Real Madrid have confirmed that Courtois will undergo a medical on Thursday morning, before signing a six-year deal and being presented at 1pm local time (midday BST).

Kovacic will join Chelsea on loan until June 30, 2019 as part of the deal, with the Croatia international spending a season away from the club he joined from Inter Milan in 2015.

Press Association

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