Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has discussed his reasons for choosing a transfer to Stamford Bridge despite also being linked with Real Madrid in recent times.
According to the Metro, the Spanish shot-stopper looked to have an opportunity to move to the Bernabeu last season before eventually staying at previous club Athletic Bilbao and signing a new contract with an increased release clause.
Just months later, however, Kepa has ended up at Chelsea, and he’s suggested not having to play against his old club may have been a major factor in that.
The 23-year-old is also quoted as saying he’s glad to have got out of his comfort zone somewhat, with the Premier League clearly a different setting and new challenge after starting out in La Liga.
When asked about his move despite links with Real and others, Kepa told AS (with translation by the Metro): ‘It is a great club, which in recent years has won the Champions League, Europa League and the Premier League.
‘I’m happy for all the effort that Chelsea has made because it’s not easy to pay those amounts and I’m looking forward to returning it on the field.
‘It’s true it’s taken me away from home and the circle I’ve always grown up in.
‘It’s important for my career. It’s true I’m going to another league, and I would only face Athletic in European competition – which would be a good sign for both clubs.
‘So maybe (not having to play against Athletic was important). But above all else what weighed most was the interest from Chelsea and how much they showed they wanted to sign me.’
Chelsea spent big on Kepa this summer after losing Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid, and he’s made a strong start in west London, helping the club to win all four of their opening four Premier League games.
CFC fans will hope that, despite his relative inexperience, he can be a long-term option for them as number one after the blow of losing a proven performer like Courtois.