Chelsea have given Kepa Arrizabalaga a seven-year contract worth around £70 million after making him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.
The club announced the £71.6m signing of Kepa from Athletic Bilbao just hours after confirming the departure of Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid and loan arrival of midfielder Mateo Kovacic in the opposite direction.
But it is not just Kepa’s transfer fee that will raise eyebrows, as Chelsea have agreed to pay the 23-year-old roughly £10m-a-year over seven years – taking the total value of the transfer to £141.6m.
Kepa is eligible to make his debut for Chelsea in the Premier League opener against Huddersfield Town on Saturday and 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.”
Chelsea 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.”
Kepa’s seven-year contract gives Chelsea plenty of security over his future after being backed into a corner once Courtois entered the final year of his deal.
Chelsea confirmed the Courtois and Kovacic deals in a statement that read: “Chelsea and Real Madrid have tonight agreed terms for the permanent transfer of Thibaut Courtois subject to the agreement of personal terms and passing a medical. Subject to the completion of the deal Mateo Kovacic will join the Blues on a season-long loan.”
The sale of Courtois will earn Chelsea around £35m, but his immediate attempt to repair his relationship with the club’s fans after going AWOL this week did not work.
Courtois posted a statement on social media, but later deleted it after it sparked a flurry of abuse. It said: “I was only nineteen years old when the club showed a great belief in my abilities. The fact that such a big club was already following me was like a dream come true. The decision to first send me away helped me to grow into a goalkeeper fit for Chelsea FC.
“When I returned, I was very happy to be part of one of the biggest teams in the world. I fulfilled a childhood dream playing in the Premier League, therefore I am really proud that we were able to win two Premier League titles, a League Cup and a FA Cup!