A goalkeeper dead, goalkeeper on. Just three days after Thibaut Courtois tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Real Madrid has announced the name of his replacement. how it progressed The Newspaper of Spainfrom Iberian Pressit will be Kepa Arrizabalaga who defends the goal of the Santiago Bernabéu this season. The white club has officially confirmed the transfer of him, coming from Chelsea.
Real Madrid made the save at full speed and at minimal cost (the player’s salary and a loan fee of about five million euros) a problem that seriously jeopardized their options for this season, given the low level exhibited by Andriy Lunin when you have had opportunities. With Kepa, Madrid signs a goalkeeper with experience in the Champions League and who, it should not be forgotten, is still the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of football: 80 million euros.
His frustrated signing in 2018
That happened in the summer of 2018, when Chelsea paid his termination clause to Athletic in a lightning operation. Just a handful of months before, however, Kepa had his transfer to another club closed: Real Madrid.
During that New Year’s Eve of 2017, or in that New Year of 2018, as you want to see it, Kepa transmitted good news to his family. In the next few days he was going to become the new Real Madrid goalkeeper. After weeks of negotiations, everything was agreed, with the white club willing to pay his termination clause, then 20 million euros. Needless to say, it was not.
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Kepa was at that time the Spanish goalkeeper with the greatest projection, still 23 years old, and Real Madrid was looking for a relay for Keylor Navas, who never came to have the full confidence of Florentino Pérez and his closest advisers. Kepa was in his last year of contract and had not finished closing his renewal with Athletic.
Madrid saw a perfect opportunity to sign him at zero cost in June 2018. Kepa was dying to wear white, but the plan did not convince him for two reasons. First, because did not want to leave Athleticto which he arrived at the age of 10, without leaving a euro in the box. Second, and not necessarily more important, he was obsessed with going to the World Cup in Russia and he knew that if he didn’t renew he would have many tickets for it. President Josu Urrutia will order his banishment to the stands for the rest of the courseweighing heavily on their World Cup aspirations.
Florentino Pérez understood the boy’s motivations and proposed a solution: Real Madrid would advance his signing to the month of January, assuming the payment of 20 million euros of his clause. The white club understood the extra cost as acceptable to spare their new goalkeeper those six months of potential ostracism and unbearable social pressure in Bilbao to join the white ranks.
Zidane stopped the signing of Kepa
In the last days of 2017, everything was agreed between Real Madrid and Kepa. They warn you, yes, that the definitive approval of Zinedine Zidane. But the goalkeeper was counting on getting it. In good measure, because the Madrid goalkeeper coach was who he is now, Luis Llopis, who had known him since he was a child, since he worked at Athletic with Joaquín Caparrós between 2007 and 2011.
The reports that Llopis had given Zidane about Kepa were excellent. He had always considered that this boy would become a top-level goalkeeper and encouraged his boss to hire him. Zizou’s plans, however, were not those.
That January 2, 2018, Florentino, Zidane and José Ángel Sánchez held a meeting about the winter market. In it, the technician is blunt: he does not want anyone else in January. The last game before the Christmas break had been a very hard 0-3 against Barça at the Bernabéu. And after that disaster, far from wanting signings, Zidane wanted to send his players the message that he fully trusted them. What if he worked for her? Madrid finished the course by winning their third consecutive Champions League.
Kepa renewed with Athletic
So that announcement that Kepa made to his people on New Year’s Eve had to be corrected. Madrid maintained its interest for the summer of 2018 (when they ended up signing Courtois), but not for that January, in which Florentino and Sánchez chose to respect Zidane’s wish not to see his squad altered.
With the new cards on the table, Kepa decided to change the play. Negotiations with Athletic had never been broken off and at that moment he decided to resume them. On January 22, the rojiblanco club announced its renewal until 2025raising its clause to 80 million euros.
Only a handful of months passed before Real Madrid entrusted Courtois with his goal, coming from a Chelsea that decided to replace the Belgian with the hiring of Kepa. In these five years, Courtois has risen to the top as the best goalkeeper in the world and Kepa has alternated periods of good performances, lousy streaks and long servings on the bench.
Robert Sánchez and the Bayern option
Con the signing of Robert Sánchez by ChelseaJust a couple of weeks ago, Kepa got the message that Mauricio Pochettino I didn’t trust him. She had the Bayern door open, but the boy was not completely convinced by the idea of working with him again. Thomas Tuchelwho trusted Edouard Mendy and not in it when they met at Stamford Bridge.
And in these, Courtois was injured and Madrid picked up the phone, as it had done a couple of years ago (when he didn’t play at all for Chelsea) to ask about his situation. The heavens opened to Kepa, because He has never fully adapted to life in England and always wanted to return to Spain. More now, recently married to his partner, also Spanish.
Madrid also managed the option of David de Geabut he was only willing to sign him for one year and the goalkeeper wanted a long contract (now Chelsea could offer it to him, who asked about him a few days ago) and Ancelotti liked Yassine Bonobut the ballast of playing the African Cup in January ruled out that option.
Llopis, his faithful godfather, dusted off his old reports on Kepa, he put them on the table, and the club was convinced that it was the best option, both sportingly and financially. And so, more than four and a half years late, the New Year’s Eve announcement has come true this Sunday: “I’m going to Real Madrid”.
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