Chelsea activate release clause for Courtois replacement


The Blues are close to completing the signing of the Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper as they aim to replace Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois

Chelsea have activated the release clause of Kepa Arrizabalaga as the Spaniard nears a move to Stamford Bridge.

Maurizio Sarri’s side are set to lose Courtois to Real Madrid this summer as the Belgian is keen on a move back to the Spanish capital and the club have made moves to replace their No.1

Kepa appeared as a target for Real Madrid in January but opted to remain at San Mames renewing his contract therefore setting his release clause at €80 million (£71m/$92m).

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Chelsea have paid the goalkeeper’s staggering release clause breaking the transfer record fee for a goalkeeper in the process.

The player’s representatives and lawyers travelled to La Liga headquarters in Valencia to pay the fee and Kepa is due to travel to London to undergo a medical and finalise personal terms.

Athletic Club issued a statement confirming the player’s release clause had been paid on Wednesday:

“The player Kepa Arrizabalaga has met the requirements for the valid unilateral termination of the contract that linked him to Athletic Club.

“The aforementioned certification indicates that the player has expressed his desire to terminate and unilaterally resolve the relationship that had joined him with the club since the 2004-05 season and that the amount of the compensation established in the contract has been deposited.

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“Athletic thanks the player for his contribution during the time he has remained with our club.”

Kepa’s move will mean that the record transfer fee for a goalkeeper has been broken twice this summer.

Liverpool signed Alisson from Roma for a fee of around £65m (€73m/$85m) and Chelsea look set to pay €7m extra for a player with just two years of experience at the top-flight.

The Kepa transfer will break the club’s previous transfer record, set last season when the Blues signed Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for an initial £58m, potentially rising to £70m ($90m).

Meanwhile Thibaut Courtois has been AWOL since returning from post-World Cup break as he looks to force through a move to Santiago Bernabeu.

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The Belgian goalkeeper is expected to move to Real Madrid following Kepa’s arrival and discussions are already underway in a move thought to involve a fee of around €35m.

Courtois’ switch will not be the only transfer business that involves Real Madrid and Chelsea this summer.

The Blues are close to sealing a season-long loan move for Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic.