Two days to the kick-off of the English Premier League, Chelsea are ready to break the transfer fee record to replace their Belgian goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois who has refused to show up at the club.
Consequently, the club is expecting Athletico Bilbao’s goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga this Wednesday morning. It will be at a huge cost and Chelsea are to pay a world record £72million fee after agreeing to meet his buy-out clause.
According to London Daily Mail, the deal for Kepa outstrips the £66.8m paid by Liverpool for Alisson last month. The Brazilian was Chelsea’s first choice to replace Courtois, but he was keen to work with Jurgen Klopp.Courtois has angered Chelsea by staying away from training in recent days in a bid to push through his move to the European champions, who are expected to offer around £35m for the Belgian while allowing midfielder Mateo Kovacic to join Chelsea on loan.
Chelsea focused attention on Kepa with time running out in the window and concerns over their other options. Sevilla’s Sergio Rico and Stoke’s Jack Butland, while both considerably cheaper, had been more inconsistent.Kepa almost joined Madrid himself in January only for the deal to fall through with his price at £17.5m. Serie A side Napoli, then under the guidance of Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri, also expressed an interest.
Madrid instead decided to keep the door ajar for Courtois after he showed a willingness to join them. As a consequence, Kepa was rewarded with a new £60,000-a-week contract at Athletic but saw his buyout clause rise to £72m.Though young and relatively raw, 6ft 3in Kepa is regarded as one of the best prospects to emerge from Spain and was named in his country’s World Cup squad.
He trained with Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday morning before getting the all-clear to travel to Madrid. His fee is to be paid officially at 10am this morning and signed off by Chelsea lawyers at La Liga HQ. He is then expected in London to sign a five-year contract worth £5m a year after tax and be in contention to make his Premier League debut away at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
As revealed by Sportsmail, Real Madrid midfielder Kovacic, 24, was identified by Chelsea as an alternative to Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey with Sarri looking to partner him with Jorginho and Kante in his new-look engine room.
Chelsea are keen to offload to offset their spending with midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko in talks with AC Milan over a possible loan with view to a permanent move.Sevilla have also enquired for striker Michy Batshuayi while there is interest in Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Danny Drinkwater, but both want to fight for their place.