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Why Kepa’s move to Madrid in 2018 failed

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Kepa signing an autograph (Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images for Premier League)

Real Madrid have announced the signing of Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on a season-long loan after the sudden injury to Thibaut Courtois in training.

Kepa, however, has been a player previously linked to the club. In fact, he once made the trip to Madrid in 2018 to undertake his medical examination and sign contracts. Despite this, the move collapsed.

Back in the 2017/2018 season, Real Madrid were coming off a Champions League back-to-back triumph with Keylor Navas as the main goalkeeper. The club realized Kepa is ending his contract with Athletic Club and in the winter market, tried to sign him.

His release clause was rumored to be around 20 million euros. The initial idea was for him to leave for free at the end of the season but the pressure in Bilbao grew. The player was pressured to leave since he was not signing a renewal.

Kepa then traveled down south to Madrid on January 4 2018 to undertake the necessary steps before his signing.

Why did the move break down?

All parties at Los Blancos agreed to sign him, but head coach Zinedine Zidane gave the go-ahead but not in the middle of January. He considered it as disloyalty to Keylor Navas and stopped it when everything was done.

Zidane’s words were clear and concise just two days after Kepa traveled to Madrid: “Now I don’t want a goalkeeper.”

The Spanish goalkeeper also didn’t want to go to a team where the coach didn’t want him.

What happened next?

The player then agreed to renew his contract with Athletic Club. On January 22, 2018, his renewal until 2025 was announced with a release clause of 80 million euros.

At the end of the season, Chelsea signed him by paying the release clause, which is the highest amount ever for a goalkeeper.

Now, the paths of the Spaniard and Real Madrid cross again. In fact, he blocked a move to Bayern Munich at the last hour and chose to sign for Real Madrid.

Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said in an interview last Sunday: “We were close (Kepa) and we actually wanted to present him today. But he’s Spanish and chose Real Madrid.”

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