Chelsea confirm Kepa transfer: Blues replace Thibaut Courtois for £71.6m, huge deal signed
The Spain international has put pen to paper on a mega SEVEN-year contract which will keep him at Stamford Bridge beyond his 30th birthday.
Kepa comes in to replace Real Madrid-bound Thibaut Courtois, for whom Chelsea have agreed a £35m fee with the La Liga giants.
And the 23-year-old says he is delighted to have been entrusted with filling the gloves of the departing Courtois.
“It’s a very important decision for me, for my career, and also for my personal life,” said Kepa.
“So many things attracted me to the club, all the titles the club has won, the other players, the city, the English Premier League. It’s an accumulation of things, and I am very glad Chelsea has decided to trust me and to take me in as well.”
Kepa emerged from a field of candidates which included England goalkeeper Jack Butland to replace Courtois at Chelsea.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia says the highly-rated stopper has long been in the Blues’ sights.
“Kepa is a talent we have admired for a long time and we are extremely excited about his arrival,” said Granovskaia.
“He has already demonstrated fantastic quality and consistency and will be a big part of any success Chelsea have in the coming years.”
Granovskaia also made mention of Kepa’s staggering seven-year deal, a contract length which is rare in the modern game.
“His long-term contract reflects the belief we have in him and we look ahead to the coming seasons with an enormous sense of optimism,” added Granovskaia.
Kepa will train with his new team-mates for the first time on Thursday and could make his debut against Huddersfield this weekend.
Meanwhile, Courtois, who went AWOL before his move to Real Madrid was confirmed, posted a now-deleted message to Chelsea supporters on Facebook.
“Hello CFC Family,” Courtois wrote. “With these few words I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for four fantastic years tear have passed. Chelsea FC will always have a special place in my heart.
“I was only nineteen years old when the club showed a great belief in my abilities. The fact that such a big club was already following me was like a dream come true. The decision to first send me away [to Atletico Madrid] helped me to grow into a goalkeeper fit for Chelsea FC.
“When I returned, I was very happy to be part of one of the biggest teams in the world. I fulfilled a childhood dream playing in the Premier League, therefore I am really proud that we were able to win two Premier League titles, a League Cup and a FA Cup!
“A huge thank you to all my teammates and technical staff over the past four years who I shared this success and amazing moments with, both on and off the pitch. The team would never be successful without the help of all the other members who are devoted to the players and the club, such as the medical deportment, kit men and all the others who I can’t thank separately!
“Last but not least I want to thank the fans for their great support over the years. I hope you understand that being closer to my kids was considerable in my decision. I with you all the best in the future.”
Chelsea have secured the services of Mateo Kovacic on loan for the season from Real as part of the agreement for Courtois.
Kovacic revealed he wanted out of Real this summer before starring in Croatia’s shock run to the World Cup final.
Chelsea transfer news: What business have the Blues done this summer?
Players in: Jorginho (£57m, Napoli), Robert Green (free, Huddersfield), Mateo Kovacic (loan, Real Madrid), Kepa Arrizabalaga (£71.6m, Athletic Bilbao).
Players out: Thibaut Courtois (£35m, Real Madrid), Charlie Colkett (loan, Shrewsbury), Lewis Baker and Jamal Blackman (loan, Leeds), Nathan Baxter (loan, Yeovil), Trevoh Chalobah (loan, Ipswich), Reece James (loan, Wigan), Dujon Sterling (loan, Coventry), Jake Clarke-Salter (loan, Vitesse Arnhem), Jordan Houghton (free, MK Dons), Eduardo (loan, Vitesse Arnhem), Kenedy (loan, Newcastle), Todd Kane (loan, Hull), Mason Mount (loan, Derby), Jeremie Boga (£3m, Sassuolo), Jacob Maddox (loan, Cheltenham), Mario Pasalic (loan, Atalanta), Nathan (loan, Atletico-MG), Victorien Angban (loan, Metz), Mitchell Beeney, Isaac Christie-Davies, Cole DaSilva, Matej Delac, Renedi Masampu, Wallace, Tushaun-Tyreese Walters (all released).