Real Madrid are preparing to pay Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga's 20-million-euro release clause in January.
Contract negotiations between Athletic and Kepa, whose current deal runs out in June, are understood to have broken down completely and, as has previously been reported by Diario AS, neither Real nor the player wish the saga to be stretched out until next summer.
Real Madrid out to confirm Kepa signing at beginning of January
Los Blancos are keen to announce the signing of Kepa in the first week of January, and Bernabéu chiefs are aware that there is only one way of making that happen: to meet his buy-out figure.
Athletic's president, Josu Urrutia, has always maintained that a player's release clause must be paid if they are to leave the Bilbao club. Meanwhile, Real have no intention of agreeing a price higher than 20m to avoid a 'hostile' transfer.
In view of both clubs' firm stances, the only option is for Kepa's clause to be unilaterally triggered by the player depositing his buy-out fee at the offices of LaLiga, the governing body of professional league football in Spain.
Real Madrid expected to offer Kepa six-year deal
With talks between Kepa and Athletic dead in the water, the next step is for the custodian, who made his senior Spain debut in November, to agree personal terms with Real Madrid. The player's camp are now directly aware of Real's interest, while Los Merengues know that he has made the decision to move to the capital.
Real are therefore set to make a formal offer to Kepa, who he is free to talk to other clubs from 1 January, in the opening days of 2018. It is believed that the Bernabéu club will hand the keeper a six-year contract worth around three million euros net per year.