So, it only took Chelsea a matter of hours — and several millions out of their pocket — to deal with Thibaut Courtois’ predicament. According to veritable Chelsea reporter Matt Law of the Telegraph, the club have agreed to pay a world record €80 million fee to take Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao.
The agreed fee is the buyout clause contained in a contract he signed with his current club back in January. Prior to that deal, the clause was at a lowly €20 million, with Real Madrid keen on activating it. However, Zinedine Zidane did not vouch for the move and Kepa answered by making his transfer four times more expensive.
December 17— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) August 7, 2018
✔️ Courtois close to an agreement over a new 5y deal with Chelsea
✔️ Kepa close to Real Madrid
✔️ Kepa’s Real deal collapses after a no from Zidane
✔️ Courtois ends contract talks
✔️ Courtois close to Real
✔️ Kepa to Chelsea?#cfc pic.twitter.com/dKOpVuGbhl
At least, Chelsea will not have to pay taxes as it was the case when buyout clauses were activated prior to 2016. Since then, the buying club no longer have to pay up to 48% on top of the money spent on a player to the Spanish government.
As for Kepa himself, he is a really good goalkeeper for a player of his age. Being three years younger than Courtois and already better in distribution, there is plenty of reason to believe he will be a world-class keeper in a short while — as well as a better fit to Maurizio Sarri’s tactical plans than Thibaut, who may be now free to join Madrid for half of Kepa’s transfer fee.