Real Madrid are reportedly eager to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao on a free transfer next summer.
According to a report by Spanish publication MARCA, Real Madrid have already started laying plans for next summer’s transfer window. Los Blancos are eyeing a Bosman move for Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, with his contract set to expire in June 2018.
Kepa joined the fabled youth setup at Athletic Bilbao as a ten-year-old in 2004 before finally making his top-flight debut for the club last season. Since then, the young shot stopper has firmly established himself within the first-team setup.
In fact, Kepa played a key role for Bilbao as they boasted one of the best defensive records and qualified for the Europa League last season. Following a successful season at the club level, the player also enjoyed a stellar campaign with his national side at the European under-21 championship as Spain finished runners up.
The 22-year-old has started the current campaign on a high as well, keeping two clean sheets in the first four games. His exploits are not going unnoticed either, with several clubs turning their attention towards Kepa, the most prominent being Real Madrid.
If Athletic’s goalkeeper, Kepa (22), signs for Real Madrid for free, Florentino is willing to compensate Athletic as a gesture of goodwill. pic.twitter.com/ilfh2OIp8E
— SB (@Realmadridplace) September 19, 2017
The Spanish and European champions have been perennially linked with a move for a top goalkeeper, with David De Gea reportedly being their top priority in recent years. However, the Spain number one is believed to be happy with his role at Manchester United as are the likes of Thibaut Courtois and Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Therefore, De Gea’s understudy at Spain, Kepa has emerged as a viable alternative for Los Blancos, although manager Zinedine Zidane has put his absolute trust in Keylor Navas, thereby blocking the club’s pursuit for a goalkeeper this past summer.
However, with Navas turning 31 this year, Real Madrid might look towards the future and secure the services of a younger goalkeeper who would be a long-term solution between the sticks at the Bernabeu.
At 22, Kepa is an ideal target for them, and the highly rated shot stopper could arrive at the club on a free transfer with his current deal at Bilbao set to expire next summer. The Basque club have been negotiating with the player’s entourage for the better part of the last ten months.
But, there has been little progress over a renewal that would see his release clause being hiked to €65 million. Should the two parties remain at odds with each other over the terms of the deal though, Kepa could well join Real Madrid on a Bosman move as he will be free to talk with clubs from January.
It would now be interesting to see if Real Madrid indeed pursue a move for Kepa next summer over their more high profile targets, and if Bilbao manage to tie down the youngster to a new deal.