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Real Madrid will reportedly make their move to sign Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga “as soon as the transfer window opens” in January.
Carlos Carpio and David G. Medina of Spanish newspaper Marca reported Real will offer €25 million (£22 million) for their target, whose current contract expires in the summer, at which point he could leave Athletic for free.
What’s more, the report suggested a move is all but complete, with Kepa on the verge of agreeing a six-year contract at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu worth €2.5 million (£2.2 million) per year.
It seems likely Los Leones will instead opt to receive a fee for their 23-year-old prospect now, with some members of Real’s hierarchy not convinced by incumbent No. 1, Keylor Navas.
The chances of Kepa moving on this winter also recently increased after ESPN FC’s Dermot Corrigan reported a certain other European heavyweight was in pursuit of his services:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Athletic keeper Kepa definitely leaving in January for €20m has been reported in last 24 hours – If Madrid don’t snap him up, PSG will. Apparently.
Kepa is seen as a potential future starter for Spain, one Los Blancos are seemingly hoping to snap up as a long-term investment to protect their lines for years to come.
Marca‘s Chris Winterburn also noted the place of Manchester United star David De Gea in the speculation, considering it’s been him long touted as the Spanish stopper who could eventually move to Madrid with Real:
Chris Winterburn @cmwinterburn
For a bit of context on the reports from Spain re: De Gea feeling comfortable in Manchester. Comes at a time when Real Madrid are making a huge effort to sign Kepa in January. Seen very much as the future/near present after Navas.
It’s said Kepa has been in negotiations with Athletic for more than 12 months, meaning an extension looks to be out of sight, and he recently opened up on his future and rumours of a move to Real, per Spanish daily AS:
“I am calm, just keeping on playing, keeping on enjoying on the field, that is the most important with my teammates, everyone together, rowing in the same direction. This Thursday, we have a very difficult game, the same as today’s was. We are in a moment that we have to throw everything into this and move forward.”
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague also recently gave some indication as to just how high a priority Kepa’s capture is for Zinedine Zidane’s side, via Sky Sports La Liga:
Sky Sports LaLiga @SkyRevista
.@GuillemBalague: “The two main worries are Real Madrid want to sign Kepa, and manager Ziganda looks unlikely to continue. They will have to be sorted before anything else is.”
Full answer 👉https://t.co/y0LSN6yPK5 #AskGuillem https://t.co/BJVgEzRYkr
Navas has been guilty of some errors in goal for Real this term, while Kepa has demonstrated a series of highlight-reel moments between the sticks for Athletic, boosting his odds of sealing a winter switch.
Real will either pay Kepa’s buyout clause or agree a deal with Athletic to bring him in early this winter, according to reports.