Chelsea are inching closer to completing a world record £71m deal for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, after the Spanish stopper flew to Madrid on Tuesday night to finalise the agreement with his agent ahead of an onward trip to London on Wednesday.
Chelsea found themselves in a potentially dire situation earlier this week when Thibaut Courtois, who is angling for a move to Real Madrid, failed to report for training after his summer break.
It meant that club had just days to source a replacement for the Belgian before the early Premier League transfer deadline prevented them from signing anyone, yet Courtois still has another three weeks to secure his dream return to Spain.
According to AS, Kepa arrived in Madrid from Bilbao shortly after 6pm on Tuesday evening. He was accompanied by his girlfriend and two advisers, before the final details of a ‘five or six’ year contract were hammered out with the law firm that Marca says Chelsea delegated the matter to.
AS notes that a lawyer representing Kepa is expected to go to La Liga’s offices on Wednesday morning and deposit the €80m buyout fee that will formally release him from his Bilbao contract.
‘As soon as possible’ afterwards it is said that the 23-year-old will be on a plane to London, with Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri said to want to start in the opening Premier League game of the season against Huddersfield on Saturday.
Marca explains that it is Chelsea’s intention for Kepa to begin training with his new teammates on Thursday, giving him two days of preparation before he makes his debut.
And with Kepa through the door, Courtois will be able to complete his proposed transfer to Real. The time constraint on that deal is much less as Real have until the end of the month to sign players, while the early Premier League deadline only restricts buying and not selling.