Real Madrid secure Chelsea star signing at final hour after Bayern Munich had unveiling planned

Ciaran McCarthy
Kepa Arrizabalaga, Chelsea, February 2023
Kepa stretching ahead of Chelsea game

Bayern Munich CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen has stated the club “wanted to present” Kepa Arrizabalaga today, but the goalkeeper instead decided to join Real Madrid.

The futures of both Kepa and Edouard Mendy were uncertain when Mauricio Pochettino took over as Chelsea boss. That both men have featured as the no.1 over the last few seasons suggests no manager was really aware who was the best option.

Kepa’s future seemed more secure when Mendy departed for Saudi side Al Ahli in July. Robert Sanchez has since joined the Blues from Brighton, but was expected to be behind Kepa in the pecking order.

But Kepa has been the subject of interest from European giants Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Bayern’s interest came after Arsenal moved ahead of them for David Raya, while Real looked to the Spaniard after a serious injury to Thibaut Courtois.

That set about a battle between the two sides, with both clearly eager to make Kepa their no.1 for this season. Multiple sources have now confirmed there is an agreement in place between the goalkeeper and Real Madrid.

It’s said he’ll join them on a season-long loan, with the Spanish side not having the option to buy him at the end of that period.

It seems there was little separating the two sides until late on. Indeed, Fabrizio Romano relays comments from Bayern CEO Dreesen, suggesting they were not far away from the snare, and even had his unveiling planned.

“We were close to this deal and we actually wanted to present Kepa today. But he chose to join Real Madrid,” Dreesen said.

“He’s Spanish and so Kepa wanted to accept Real proposal.”

While Kepa joined Chelsea for £72million, it’s fair to say Bilbao, where he moved from, are not one of Spain’s premier clubs. As such, the opportunity to head back to his home country in order to play for one of its most successful sides would have been a hard one to pass up.

Kepa will hope things go well for him at Real, given he’s deputising for one of the world’s best goalkeepers. While Real don’t have an option to buy him, if he was to do well, there’s no reason to suggest they wouldn’t want to anyway.

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