It truly is the summer of goalkeepers.
Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is officially headed to Real Madrid after the Blues confirmed they have reached an agreement on for his transfer.
According to the official club release, written in obnoxiously large font, Courtois still must agree to personal terms with Madrid and complete a medical. In the other direction comes midfielder Mateo Kovacic on a season-long loan, bolstering Chelsea’s already strong midfield ranks. Kovacic must also complete a medical to rubber stamp the deal.
Reports over the last few days have suggested that Chelsea would block Courtois’s move to Madrid, despite pleas from his agent, with the club failing in its search for a replacement. Now, the transfer is a reality.
Coming to the Blues in the other direction is rising Croatian talent Kovacic, who fits in nicely to the Chelsea midfield and could play an important role in the buildup-based system new manager Mauricio Sarri plans to implement. The midfield ranks are crowded, with Ngolo Kante, Cesc Fabregas, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Danny Drinkwater all on the roster, although Bakayoko has been the subject of loan rumors of late.
Hours later, Chelsea announced the signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao for a fee of $92 million, a record for a goalkeeper that breaks Liverpool’s signing of Alisson earlier this window. The 23-year-old comes highly rated, yet highly inexperienced. He has just 53 top flight appearances in his career between an earlier loan at Real Valladolid and this past season with the Athletic senior side.
All of this also has a major effect on incumbent Real Madrid starter Keylor Navas, who has won three straight Champions League titles with Los Blancos. The Costa Rican is well-liked in Madrid, but with so many top goalkeepers linked to the club over the past few windows, it seems as if Florentino Perez has been trying to replace him for years.