With barely 72 hours left in the 2018 summer transfer window, Chelsea are scrambling to find a solution for the goalkeeper situation. Now that Thibaut Courtois has gone back on his word, and isn’t in fact willing to play out the final year of his contract, the Blues are in panic mode. But panic mode is nothing new in the SW6, and sometimes we even pull something cool our of the fire. (Other times we end up with Djilobodji, but let’s not talk about that.)
So, while English sources put Jack Butland at the top of Chelsea’s shortlist, and the Stoke City goalkeeper may be the most realistic choice both in terms of availability and in terms of price-to-performance, Spanish sources such as AS claim that Chelsea are actually looking at Kepa Arrizabalaga. Jan Oblak is also mentioned, but even AS have to admit that is highly unlikely, with Oblak delighted to stay and renew soon.
El Chelsea da por perdido a Courtois y ya ha elegido sustituto: Kepa Arrizabalaga. Según ha podido saber AS, el equipo londinense está dispuesto a pagar los 80 millones de la cláusula del portero del Athletic https://t.co/kPYHCeQaZ8— AS (@diarioas) August 6, 2018
Back to Kepa then. The 23-year-old was heavily linked with Real Madrid in January, but ended up signing a new 6.5-year extension with Athletic Bilbao instead. This new deal has a built-in release clause of €80m, which Chelsea are now apparently “determined” to pay. We may have balked at a similar fee for Alisson, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Kepa, capped once for Spain and backup to De Gea at the World Cup, was born in Basque Country and came up through Athletic’s youth system. He’s said to regard the Chelsea possibility with “good eyes”, which I’m assuming is a good thing.