Chelsea are believed to have give up hope of Belgium international goal keeper Thibaut Courtois returning to the club and have set their sights on a replacement, in the form of Spanish number two Kepa Arrizabalaga who is currently at la Liga side Athletic Bilbao.
Chelsea officials are thought to have flown to Spain and are in advanced talks with the player after he paid the £71m release clause to La Liga, which guarantees availability to leave Spain and join the Stamford Bridge outfit.
Under La Liga rules a player must buy himself out of the contract, which is usually done by depositing the amount stated in the players contract to La Liga, Spain’s equivalent of the Premier League, they in turn pass the money on to the selling club, acting as sort of a middle man.
Kepa has one Spanish cap to his name as he currently stands behind Manchester United’s David de Gea, although he has been Bilbao’s first choice for the past two seasons making 53 La Liga appearances for the club.
With Courtois still to return to Chelsea after finishing World cup duties and being heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid, should Bilbao except Chelsea’s offer it would surpass the £66.8m Liverpool paid for Brazilian international keeper Alisson last month, making Arrizabalaga the most expensive keeper on record.
The fee would also be a club transfer record as it would also surpass the £58m they paid real Madrid for Spanish striker Alvaro Morata last summer.
Also all set to join to join Arrizabalaga at Stamford bridge is Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic on a season loan, after impressing during his countries run to the World Cup Final during the summer. Although Real’s new boss Julen Lopetegui has expressed his desire for Kovacic to remind at the Bernabeu, the 24 year old is expected to undergo a medical, today before completing the move.