La Liga giants Athletic Bilbao have confirmed that goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has paid the €80million (£71.5m) buyout clause in his contract as he edges closer to completing a move to Chelsea in the final hours of the transfer window.
As reported by ESPN FC on Tuesday, the tabloid claimed that Chelsea had informed the goalkeeper they were ready to pay his release clause, in a deal that would see him as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper as well as the club’s record signing.
Kepa was believed to have flew to Madrid on Tuesday to held talks with his representatives, and as reported on Wednesday, the buyout fee was officially deposited in Bilbao’s offices to terminate his contract with Athletic and pave the way for him to join Chelsea.
A statement issued by Athletic read:
“On Wednesday 8 August, 2018, at 12:02 hours, the Spanish Football League [LFP] has certified to our club that player Kepa Arrizabalaga has complied with the requirements to end unilaterally his contract that linked him with Athletic Club.
“The cited note points out that the player has stated his wish to end and resolve unilaterally his contractual relationship that had started in the 2004/05 campaign and has deposited the compensation fee that was established in his contract.
“Athletic thank the player for his contribution throughout the time he has been at the club.”
The goalkeeper is now expected in London to undergo a medical and finalise his move to Chelsea, while confirmation of his arrival should also see Blues No. 1 goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois granted permission to join Real Madrid in a £35m deal.
According to Spanish radio station Onda Cero, the Spanish radio claimed Madrid hope to unveil the signing Courtois on Thursday, with personal terms for his transfer from Chelsea to Madrid already agreed and finalise.
Kepa was close to joining Madrid for as little as €20m in January, but the deal was blocked by then-coach Zinedine Zidane, and Athletic responded by committing their prized asset to a new long-term contract, which increased his buyout figure to €80m.