Kepa Arrizabalaga: All about the world's costliest goal-keeper
After Thibaut Courtois refused to participate in training sessions with Chelsea, the Blues knew they had to ship him away. Chelsea, thus, agreed to sell the Golden Glove winner to Real Madrid for €35 million. In a desperate attempt to secure a goal-keeper, the Blues shelled out €80 million for Athletic Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga, making him the world's costliest custodian. But who is Arrizabalaga?
In July, this year, Brazilian Alisson completed a move from Roma to Liverpool for a sum of €75 million. This transfer had made him the most expensive goal-keeper in the history of sport. He had surpassed the record of Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon, which stood for 6,225 days. However, Arrizabalaga has broken the record in 20 days flat.
Kepa joined Bilbao's youth setup in 2004. He started his senior career with Deportivo Basconia, a fourth division club, in 2012. In 2013, he started playing for the reserve team of Bilbao but he was then loaned to Ponferradina and Real Valladolid He made a return in 2016 and since then, Kepa Arrizabalaga has regularly featured for the first team of Bilbao.
Kepa was the starting goal-keeper for the Spanish U-19 team, which won the UEFA European Championship. He has made only one appearance for the senior team, in a friendly match against Costa Rica. He was a part of Spain's 2018 World Cup Qualifiers squad in place of an injured Pepe Reina. Further, he sealed a spot in Spain's FIFA World Cup squad as well.
In January, Kepa had signed a long-term contract with Bilbao, which had ensured his stay till 2025. In Spain, a player has to deposit the amount of the buyout to La Liga to release himself from the contract, which then transfers the money to the club. This is why, technically, he had to pay his own buyout clause to facilitate his move to London.
Kepa has been appreciated by the likes of Zidane, who was interested in signing him for Real Madrid. He kept a clean sheet in his debut international match against Croatia, which Spain won 5-0. Fernando Hierro, Spanish manager during the World Cup, considered using him in place of David de Gea, after the United man failed to impress in the first two matches.