Real Madrid have struggled with their attempt to sign quality goalkeepers in recent years. Following the departure of club hero Iker Casillas, only Keylor Navas has been a well-known keeper for Los Blancos. The Spanish giants failed to sign Manchester United star David de Gea two season ago, and feel in need of another keeper who can constantly pose a strong competition to Keylor Navas.
Many names have popped up on their transfer shortlist, but Atheltic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga is the latest to join the list. The Athletic goalkeeper, touted to have a bright future ahead of him, is attracting a lot of interest from Real Madrid and a few Serie A clubs, including Napoli.
In light of this interest from top clubs around Europe, the 22-year-old keeper has asked for a pay raise at Bilbao. However, Real Madrid will know that if Bilbao are reluctant to offer the goalkeeper a pay raise, then the 22-year-old could be available on a free transfer next summer.
Kepa could prove to be a handy acquisition for Zinedine Zidane’s men. For long, the 22-year-old has had to wait to get a regular run of games at Bilbao, and this season, he seems to have been rewarded for his perseverance. He has featured in five matches for the Basque club this season, keeping two clean sheets. But what’s more important is the fact that he has been making 3.6 saves per game with an astounding average of 3 saves per goal.
He may have conceded six goals, which, truth be told, is not bad by any means, but he’s also made the second most number of saves in the Liga this season(18), trailing first placed Roberto Jimenez of Malaga, who has played an extra game, by five saves. He also has a distribution accuracy of 68%, better than the league average.
However, it is believed that Kepa wants to stay at Bilbao for now. He feels at home and he identifies with them despite a series of interest from top clubs.
Although his contract expires next summer, Bilbaínos are confident that he will stay at the club for long, once he pens a new four-year contract extension. And at 22, with so little exposure in the top flight, it makes sense for Real Madrid to wait out a few more years before going all out for the exciting Spanish talent.
But Bilbao will be aware of the fact that Kepa’s value increases every game he plays. Being an Under-21 International with Spain, he has all the potential in the world to deputize the undisputed first-choice keeper David de Gea in the Spanish National Team. So Real should do all it takes to sign him in the near future.