MADRID (AP) — Kepa Arrizabalaga was officially introduced as a Real Madrid goalkeeper on Tuesday, saying he didn’t have to think too hard when the offer arrived.
“It was an easy decision,” Kepa said after being introduced by club president Florentino Pérez. “I had other offers from important clubs, but when I was told about this option, it all happened really fast.”
Kepa arrived on a one-year loan from Chelsea to help make up for the absence of regular starter Thibaut Courtois, who tore a ligament in his left knee last week and will be sidelined for a lengthy period.
One of the clubs negotiating with Kepa was Bayern Munich, which was trying to find a replacement for the injured Manuel Neuer.
“These were some intense days, but when I received the offer from Real Madrid everything was clear,” said the 28-year-old Kepa, who in 2018 became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Chelsea for 80 million euros (then $93 million).
He had already been linked to a move with Madrid at that time, but eventually made it to England while Courtois left Chelsea and signed with Madrid.
“It happened when it had to happen. Now I’m prepared to give my 100% for Real Madrid,” Kepa said. “Today is one of the most special days of my career. I’m proud to be part of Real Madrid and I’m excited about the challenge.”
Pérez welcomed Kepa as “one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”
“We know very well what it means to you at this moment and how hard you have worked to be able to defend the jersey and the crest of Real Madrid,” the club presidednt said.
Kepa wished a speedy recovery to Courtois and the two other Madrid players who sustained knee injuries recently — defender Éder Militão and midfielder Arda Güler.
The Spanish goalkeeper will fight for a starting position with Ukrainian teammate Andriy Lunin, the long-time reserve for Courtois who started in Madrid’s 2-0 win at Athletic Bilbao in the team’s Spanish league opener on Saturday.
Madrid’s next game it at Almeria in the Spanish league on Saturday.
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