Chelsea signs goalkeeper Kepa from Bilbao after selling Courtois


Kepa Arrizabalaga. (Alvaro Barrientos, file/AP)

LONDON — Chelsea has signed Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for a record fee after selling Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid.

Chelsea announced the signing on Wednesday after paying Kepa’s 80-million-euro ($92.6 million) buyout clause — the biggest fee ever for a goalkeeper.

The transfer was completed shortly after Courtois’ move to Madrid was also confirmed in a deal that will see midfielder Mateo Kovacic move to the London club on a season-long loan.

Kepa is considered Spain’s goalkeeper of the future and was a reserve at the World Cup in Russia. The fee paid for him tops the 72.5 million euros Liverpool gave Roma for Alisson earlier this summer.

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“Kepa is a talent we have admired for a long time and we are extremely excited about his arrival,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement.

The London club had to move fast to bring in a new No. 1 after Courtois made it clear this week that he wanted a transfer to Madrid. The Belgian had refused to turn up for training in recent days, and Chelsea said in a statement earlier Wednesday that two clubs “have agreed terms for the permanent transfer of Thibaut Courtois subject to the agreement of personal terms and passing a medical. Subject to the completion of the deal Mateo Kovacic will join the Blues on a season-long loan.”

Real Madrid confirmed Courtois will undergo a medical on Thursday morning before signing a six-year deal.

The Belgium goalkeeper, winner of the Golden Glove award as the World Cup’s best goalkeeper, will be presented at 1 p.m. local time in Madrid before attending a news conference.

Madrid’s starting goalkeeper has been Keylor Navas, who helped the club win the last three Champions League titles. But the club has been linked with a new goalkeeper in most recent transfer windows, and tried to sign David De Gea from Manchester United in 2015 only to miss the deadline. Last season, Madrid reportedly also tried to sign Kepa.

Kovacic had not played much with Madrid since joining the club in 2015 and had been seeking a transfer. The Croatian midfielder was competing with regular Madrid starters Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.


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