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Chelsea Sign £72million Keeper Kepa

Chelsea have paid £72.1million to snap up Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has penned a seven-year deal.

Hours after confirming that current number one Thibaut Courtois is to join Real Madrid for £35million on Thursday, with Mateo Kovacic heading in the other direction on loan, the Blues quickly replaced the Belgian international in emphatic fashion.

Athletic Bilbao had earlier announced that the 23-year-old’s release clause of 80million euros (£72.1m) was activated and his contract terminated.

The statement made no mention of Chelsea, but the move represents a world record for a goalkeeper, surpassing the £65m paid by Liverpool to Roma for Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker last month.

“It’s a very important decision for me, for my career, and also for my personal life,” Kepa told the club’s official website. “So many things attracted me to the club, all the titles the club has won, the other players, the city, the English Premier League.

“It’s an accumulation of things, and I am very glad Chelsea has decided to trust me and to take me in as well.”

Kepa could make his Premier League debut against Huddersfield on Saturday after completing a deal that director Marina Granovskaia believes will be great for Chelsea.

“Kepa is a talent we have admired for a long time and we are extremely excited about his arrival,” she said. “He has already demonstrated fantastic quality and consistency and will be a big part of any success Chelsea have in the coming years.

“His long-term contract reflects the belief we have in him and we look ahead to the coming seasons with an enormous sense of optimism.”

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