Real Madrid have a goalkeeping problem after a serious injury for Thibaut Courtois which will see him miss most of the 2023/24 season. A solution has already been found with the Kepa Real Madrid transfer now official and the details of the deal known.
Los Blancos didn’t miss Courtois too much at the weekend as they won 2-0 away to Athletic Club in their opening La Liga fixture with Andriy Lunin in goal. The 24 year old was only required to make one save in Bilbao but will most likely be relegated to a back-up role once more now that Kepa has arrived.
The Chelsea man will relish the opportunity to return to La Liga to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world, five years on from his initial move to England. He’ll also see this as a good opportunity to fight for the Spain number one jersey and if Kepa does well he could be move ahead of Unai Simon as the starting keeper for La Roja at next summer’s Euros.
Kepa Real Madrid transfer – A one year loan
Kepa Arrizabalaga has completed a season-long loan move to Real Madrid. ✍️
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 14, 2023
Real Madrid have now formally announced the details of this deal which will see Kepa Arrizabalaga sign for one season on loan until 30th June 2024. A permanent deal was never seriously muted with this move a very clear reaction to Courtois’ torn ACL injury which will see him sidelined for at least six months and potentially more.
The deal reportedly includes a loan fee for Kepa with Real Madrid also covering the wages of the 28 year old. The keeper is now likely to be a central figure in the Spanish capital this season and is expected to be the club’s first choice keeper in both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.
It’s a surprise move to some extent given Mauricio Pochettino had only last week indicated that Kepa was slightly ahead of Robert Sanchez in the race to be Chelsea number one. However with the Blues not in Europe, it was always going to be tough to keep both goalkeepers happy and Kepa has clearly jumped at the unexpected opportunity to move to Real Madrid where he’ll be a clearer first choice, at least until Courtois is fit.
Could Kepa stay longer?
— Football España (@footballespana_) August 14, 2023
There is no buy option in this deal which suggests Kepa will only stay for one season in Madrid. Courtois has arguably been the best goalkeeper in Europe in recent years and is trusted by everyone at the Santiago Bernabeu to continue as the club’s first choice keeper for many years to come.
At 31, the Belgian is by no means an old goalkeeper but it does remain to be seen just how well he can recover from such a serious injury. Should Kepa perform well, it’s not completely beyond the realm of possibility that Real Madrid could still seek to make the move permanent next summer, but it’s doubtful that the player would settle for any move that would see him act as Courtois’ deputy.
Kepa’s Chelsea contract only runs until June 2025 so the Premier League side will also need to make a decision on the Spaniard next summer in terms of extending his deal or letting him leave on a permanent basis to avoid losing him for free the following summer.
Overall, this move feels like little more than a quick fix that will enable Real Madrid to get an experienced replacement for Courtois and give Kepa guaranteed domestic and European football in an important year for his international aspirations.