Chelsea have broken the world transfer record for a goalkeeper, putting their mark on one of the most expensive windows ever in football.
After failing to qualify for the Champions League last season, a host of Chelsea players were linked with a move away from Stamford Bridge including Thibaut Courtois. Following an excellent World Cup, the Belgian was targeted by Real Madrid to replace Keylor Navas. With just one-year on his contract, Courtois missed training and forced through his desire to seal a move to Madrid.
With Alisson Becker choosing Liverpool, the Blues have now brought in former Athletic Bilbao ‘keeper – Kepa Arrizabalaga. Valued at £18m by Transfermarkt, the goalkeeper has paid £71m to activate the release clause in his contract to replace Courtois at Stamford Bridge. The fee has managed to surpass the total Liverpool paid to Roma and set a new world-record amount for a goalkeeper.
The transfer fee is enormous, but Chelsea were left with no choice with just one day remaining in the summer window. Kepa made 30 appearances in La Liga last season, keeping seven clean sheets, as Bilbao lumbered to a 16th place finish. He was linked with a move to Real Madrid in January but decided to pen a new contract instead.
Losing Courtois will be a blow, but Chelsea have secured one of the world’s most promising shot-stoppers. Compared to the Belgian, Kepa made more saves per goal on average last season as well as averaging more claims and punches (Squawka). The Spaniard has excellent reflexes – he made 64 saves inside the penalty area – the third most of any goalkeeper in La Liga (SkySports).
Chelsea are definitely paying a premium, falling into the trap of dealing in the market this late on, for his services but signing Kepa makes much more sense than splashing out £30m on Jack Butland. His transition to life in England will be tough but don’t be surprised to see the 23-year-old follow in the footsteps of David de Gea and become a Premier League star.
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