Thibaut Courtois leaves Chelsea as Kepa Arrizabalaga comes in
Statement from Chelsea says Belgian goalkeeper has agreed terms with Real Madrid
Thibaut Courtois is to join Real Madrid in a deal that will see Mateo Kovacic move to Chelsea on a season-long loan.. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Kepa Arrizabalaga has become the world’s most expensive goalkeeper after completing a £71.6m move from Athletic Bilbao to Chelsea, with the young Spain international replacing Thibaut Courtois at Stamford Bridge.
Lawyers for Chelsea and Arrizabalaga convened at the offices of La Liga in Madrid and deposited the fee to trigger a release clause in the 23-year-old’s contract at 9.22am yesterday. The goalkeeper, capped only once but con-sidered one of the most promising -talents in Europe, subsequently flew to London with Bilbao, with whom he has played since the age of 10, con-firming in a statement that his contract had effectively been terminated.
The youngster has undertaken a medical and is expected to sign a six year deal at Stamford Bridge, with the fee required to prise him from Bilbao eclipsing the record for a goalkeeper of £66.9m, paid this summer by Liverpool to Roma for Brazil’s No 1, Alisson. The new Chelsea head coach, Mauricio Sarri, has described the new goalkeeper as “very young, but very good” and hopes to have the player available for their Premier League fixture at Huddersfield on Saturday. Real Madrid, who will unveil Courtois today, had been close to securing Arrizabalaga for only £17.9m just seven months ago.
Mateo Kovacic, the Croatia midfielder, has also arrived at Chelsea on a season-long loan from Real as part of the deal that has taken Courtois to the Bernabéu. The former Interna-zionale midfielder was eager for greater game-time than he had enjoyed last term - the 24-year-old made 10 starts in La Liga - despite the new Real head coach, Julen Lopetegui, having expressed a desire that he stayed. Kovacic could now settle into midfield alongside Jorginho and N’Golo Kanté at Stamford Bridge.
His departure from Real was sanctioned with one eye on the signing of Courtois and, having been absent without leave all week, the Belgian will be presented as a £35m Madrid player today after undergoing a medical.
Courtois, who in the final year of his contract indicated since January he would be unlikely to sign new terms, has long desired to return to the Spanish capital where his children live with his former partner. The former Atlético loanee will sign a six-year contract.
He could be one of numerous departures this month, with Tiémoué Bakayoko’s brother and agent having spent yesterday in Italy speaking with the Milan directors Leonardo and Paolo Maldini. Bakayoko, a £40m signing from Monaco, had indicated a willingness to fight for his place under Sarri but is likely to leave on a 12-month loan. Premier League clubs had been quoted £15m to take the France player for the season this summer.
That deal, together with Valencia’s offer to take Michy Batshuayi on loan, can be completed before the end of the month. More pressing are the futures of Danny Drinkwater and Kurt Zouma. Everton have inquired about taking Zouma on loan while Drinkwater has been considered by West Ham, Crystal Palace and Leicester. He is effectively available for around £37m, but prospective suitors had been quoted a £10m loan fee, plus his hefty wages, earlier in the window. – Guardian service