Kepa joins Madrid on loan to replace Courtois

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Real Madrid have signed goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan from Chelsea, the Spanish club have confirmed.

Madrid moved for Kepa, 28, after first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois suffered an ACL tear in training last week.

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Courtois is expected to be unavailable for around seven months, meaning backup option Andriy Lunin started in Madrid’s 2-0 LaLiga win away at Athletic Club on Saturday.

Kepa was previously on the verge of joining Madrid from Athletic in January 2018, but a change of plans saw the club opt to sign Courtois later that year.

Kepa then replaced Courtois at Chelsea in a record €80 million ($87.6m) deal for a goalkeeper.

The Spain international had difficult five years at Stamford Bridge. He was first choice for his first two seasons but lost his place in the team to Édouard Mendy, and then regained it for much of the 2022-23 campaign.

Chelsea signed Kepa’s Spain teammate Robert Sánchez from Brighton as their new No. 1 last week.

Courtois’ long-term injury saw Madrid move quickly to identify an experienced, affordable replacement.

ESPN reported that coach Carlo Ancelotti initially favoured signing Sevilla’s Morocco international Yassine Bounou, but his club’s financial demands and his involvement in January’s Africa Cup of Nations weighed against him.

There was no consensus at the Bernabeu over a move for David de Gea — who left Manchester United this summer — and Kepa soon emerged as the favourite.

He had been close to joining Bayern Munich, but put that deal on hold when Madrid’s interest emerged.

Ancelotti showed his support for Lunin ahead of Madrid’s league debut at Athletic — saying he had “total confidence” in the player — but admitted that the inexperience of the other goalkeepers at his disposal could force a move.

“I’m very calm. We have to think about it,” Ancelotti said on Friday. “We have until [August] 31. If we think about signing a keeper, it’s about numbers.”

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