English Premier League club, Chelsea, have announced the signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for £71 million, the highest fee ever paid for a goalkeeper, and a club record transfer.
The 23-year-old Spanish stopper arrived at Stamford Bridge after a release clause in his contract was met, with the deal surpassing Alisson’s £66.8m move to Liverpool.
Arrizabalaga signed a seven-year contract at the club and replaces Thibaut Courtois, who is set to join Real Madrid.
Chelsea confirmed the signing on its official website with a statement: “Chelsea Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
“The 23-year-old Spanish international goalkeeper arrives ahead of the new Premier League season having signed a seven-year contract at Stamford Bridge.
“Kepa, who has played over 100 career league games, has solid experience at the highest level having made more than 50 appearances in La Liga, his quality earning him a call-up to the Spain squad for this summer’s World Cup in Russia”, the statement read in parts.
Upon completing his move to Chelsea, Arrizabalaga said: “It’s a very important decision for me, for my career, and also for my personal life.
“So many things attracted me to the club, all the titles the club has won, the other players, the city, the English Premier League. It’s an accumulation of things, and I am very glad Chelsea has decided to trust me and to take me in as well”, he added.
Chelsea football Director, Marina Granovskaia added: “Kepa is a talent we have admired for a long time and we are extremely excited about his arrival. He has already demonstrated fantastic quality and consistency and will be a big part of any success Chelsea have in the coming years. His long-term contract reflects the belief we have in him and we look ahead to the coming seasons with an enormous sense of optimism”, she opined.
Born in Ondarroa, a Basque seaside town, Kepa joined the Athletic academy at the age of nine and after gaining experience at their fourth-tier feeder club Basconia, he appeared regularly for Bilbao’s B-team, earning international recognition at youth level due to the quality of his displays.
Kepa was loaned to SD Ponferradina, a Spanish second division side, in January 2015, having made his debut against Racing Santander, he started on a regular basis, keeping seven clean sheets in the process as the team missed out on the playoffs by just one point. He established himself in another second-tier loan move with Real Valladolid the next season, before returning to Bilbao for the 2016/17 campaign.