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Rediff.com  » Sports » Kepa and Courtois: A tale of two goalkeepers

Kepa and Courtois: A tale of two goalkeepers

August 09, 2018 10:40 IST

Chelsea sign Spanish goalkeeper Kepa for world record fee

Kepa Arrizabalaga

IMAGE: Kepa Arrizabalaga is a Chelsea goalkeeper. Photograph: Chelsea FC/Twitter

Chelsea have signed Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for a world record 80 million-euro ($92.8 million) fee from Athletic Bilbao, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

With Thibaut Courtois joining Real Madrid, Chelsea signed 23-year-old Arrizabalaga as an instant replacement for the Belgium international.

Arrizabalaga becomes the most expensive goalkeeper in football history, ahead of Liverpool's Alisson, who moved from AS Roma for 75 million euros earlier in the transfer window.

 

"The Spanish international goalkeeper arrives ahead of the new Premier League season having signed a seven-year contract at Stamford Bridge," Chelsea said in a statement.

Athletic confirmed earlier on Wednesday that Arrizabalaga's representatives deposited his buy-out clause at La Liga's offices.

"He has already demonstrated fantastic quality and consistency and will be a big part of any success Chelsea have in the coming years," Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said.

"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."

Arrizabalaga has played 53 La Liga matches for Athletic Bilbao since breaking into the team in 2016.

"It's a very important decision for me, for my career, and also for my personal life," said the goalkeeper.

"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."

After being strongly linked to Real Madrid, Arrizabalaga signed a new deal with Bilbao in January which raised his release fee to 80 million from 20 million.

Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri praised Arrizabalaga on Tuesday night.

"I saw (Kepa) one year ago, my first impression was that he is a very good goalkeeper, very young but very good," said the Italian coach after his team drew 0-0 with Olympique Lyonnais in a friendly.

Real Madrid sign Courtois from Chelsea

Thibault Courtois

IMAGE: Thibaut Courtois joins Real Madrid. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Real Madrid have signed Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea with Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic going the other way on loan, the clubs said on Wednesday.

Courtois has agreed a six-year contract and Real will pay an initial 35 million euros ($40.7 million) for the Belgian goalkeeper, Spanish media reported.

"The Golden Glove (winner) from the last World Cup signs for the Champions League champions after his impressive performance in Russia," Real Madrid said in a statement.

"After his medical on Thursday August 9, the player will be presented in the presidential box at the Santiago Bernabeu."

The 26-year-old previously played for Atletico Madrid on loan from Chelsea for three years between 2011-14 and wanted to return to the Spanish capital, where his children live.

"I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the four fantastic years that have passed. Chelsea FC will always have a fantastic place in my heart," Courtois said on Facebook.

"I want to thank the fans for their great support over the years. I hope you understand that being closer to my kids was considerable in my decision."

Courtois played 154 times for Chelsea after arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2011, keeping 58 clean sheets.

British media reported that the Belgian, who has played 65 times for his country and helped them reach this year's World Cup semi-finals, has not shown up for training at Chelsea for the past two days in a bid to force through the transfer.

"Chelsea and Real Madrid have tonight agreed terms for the permanent transfer of Thibaut Courtois subject to the agreement of personal terms and passing a medical," Chelsea said in a statement.

Courtois is set to take over as Julen Lopetegui's first- choice goalkeeper at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Keylor Navas and Kiko Casilla likely to be demoted.

Madrid have attempted to replace Navas in each of the previous two close seasons, despite the Costa Rican helping them win three Champions League titles in three years.

Chelsea have completed the signing of Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for a world record 80 million euros and the 23-year-old Spaniard has signed a seven-year contract.

"It's a very important decision for me, for my career and also for my personal life," Arrizabalaga said. "I'm very glad Chelsea has decided to trust me and to take me in as well."

The Spaniard becomes the most expensive goalkeeper in football history, replacing Brazilian Alisson who completed a 75 million-euro move to Liverpool last month from AS Roma.

Kovacic, 24, will compete for places in Chelsea's midfield under new manager Maurizio Sarri alongside Frenchman N'Golo Kante, Italian Jorginho and Spaniard Cesc Fabregas.

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