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Arrizabalaga joins Real Madrid on loan from Chelsea

Kepa Arrizabalaga has joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Thibaut Courtois’ ACL injury last week on the eve of the new La Liga season meant Real were in need of a new goalkeeper, with Kepa emerging as their preferred choice on Saturday.

Courtois is expected to miss much of the 2023-24 season, with a best-case scenario of a return in April for the 31-year-old Belgium international.

His injury left Real with only Andriy Lunin as a senior goalkeeper on their books. The 24-year-old started on Saturday against Athletic Bilbao, only his 10th La Liga appearance for Real since joining in 2018.

Kepa, meanwhile, regained his place as Chelsea No 1 last season, having previously lost his starting berth to Edouard Mendy. The Spain international played 39 times for Chelsea across all competitions last season, keeping 12 clean sheets.

Chelsea signed goalkeeper Robert Sanchez from Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this month, with the Spain international making his competitive debut for the club during the 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Follow the summer transfer window with The Athletic

Chelsea allowed Mendy to leave for Al Ahli earlier this summer, bringing in Robert Sanchez from Brighton to supplement their goalkeeping department. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday he was expecting “a very good competition” between Kepa and fellow Spain international Sanchez for the No 1 spot but indicated the former was ahead of the latter ahead of their opening Premier League game against Liverpool on Sunday.

Kepa previously made 53 La Liga appearances for Athletic before joining Chelsea for a world-record £71million fee for a goalkeeper in the summer of 2018.

The 28-year-old’s departure leaves Chelsea with only Sanchez as the only senior goalkeeper available in their squad. The west London side allowed USMNT international Gabriel Slonina to join Belgian side KAS Euppen earlier this week, with youngsters Lucas Bergstrom and Eddie Beach remaining. Marcus Bettinelli, the former Fulham stopper who has been Chelsea’s third-choice goalkeeper since 2021, is out injured.


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(Photo: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

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