Athletic Club are desperate to keep their hands on young goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has been recently called up Spain coach Julen Lopetegui and looks likely to be going to the World Cup in Russia next summer. But things are not going well for the Basque club in their bid to renew the keeper's contract.
As this newspaper reported previously, Real Madrid are following the contract renewal process very closely, with the club from the capital keen to land the goalie if there's a chance of doing so. The idea at the Bernabéu would be for Arrizabalaga to become the future long-term number 1 at Real Madrid.
Arrizabalaga talks break down
Talks between Arrizabalaga and Athletic Club have broken down, with differences between the two sides over both the buy-out clause and the player's salary. In under a month and a half the player will be able to start to talking to other clubs, meaning his agent's phone is about to start ringing at all hours of the day.
Athletic Club are unable to come up with a satisfactory package for Arrizabalaga, even though the keeper, who came up through the ranks at the club, has always insisted he'll give them the first bite at the cherry. Athletic have offered him a progressive salary that rises throughout the four year contract they are offering, but with a 75 million buy-out clause, which would be the highest at the club (Laporte is on 65, which can be increased to 70 next season).
Kepa's agents argue that if he's going to have the highest buy-out clause he should also have a salary at the very top of the squad's range. A possibility would be to drop the buy-out clause to 40 or 50 million, with a salary in line with that, but that's not the strategy club president Urrutia wants to pursue, as if he has to lose his prize asset he wants as big a return as possible. The club is said to have offered a salary of around 2.2 million euros a year.
Real Madrid ready to make an offer to Arrizabalaga
The problem right now for Athletic Club is that Real Madrid are ready to make a succulent offer to the player, with a salary he couln't refuse. And what's worse for the Basque outfit is that other clubs are also keen. Barcelona are keeping an eye on the situation, and Valverde knows Arrizabalaga well from his time in Bilbao, and he gave the goalkeeper confidence last season (Ter Stegen would though be problem as he's no signs of departing). Also said to be interested are Juventus and two Premier League clubs.
Despite Athletic's desire to keep the player, their president isn't going to let his arm be twisted: "Those who want to stay here, stay here. The player has to make an effort, not just the club. Kepa is very good, but we've achieved what we have in recent seasons without him..."