Real Madrid made contact with Athletic Bilbao a few days ago to give a clear signal of their intention to sign the highly rated young goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, in the January window. According to Basque media group Euskal Telebista on Monday, the president of the northern-based club, Josu Urrutia, responded with a very predictable "no".
Bilbao target keeping Kepa
Further information reports that the rojiblancos have also put an improved offer on the table for the goalkeeper's agents with no agreement yet in place with the capital club. They are hoping that through the player's representatives they can still find a way to keep one of their stars, one who is out of contract in the summer. That proposed offer would raise his salary to the top bracket. With Kepa's contract with Athletic set to end on June 30, and no renewal yet agreed, the regional station reported a few weeks ago that the boy from Ondarroa's demands were likely to be accepted by Urrutia: about 2.2 million euros. This could now jump to around 3.5 million euros with a release clause built in that would not exceed 50 million as was initially intended in Ibaigane.
Zidane not looking for a new keeper
This alleged intention of Real Madrid to sign Kepa in January seems to directly contradict the stated desires of manager Zinedine Zidane who has said he is not looking to bring in a goalkeeper this month. The coach has reiterated this in several press conferences:
"I don't need a goalkeeper, I don't need a goalkeeper now. Later, if there are changes in June, we will sit down and talk about them. There may be positions to sign. The last two years nobody has come in. There comes a time where you can discuss it, but today, I don't see it. That's why I'm not talking about players who are not from my team, out of respect for my players."
Zidane and Real Madrid collide over transfer
Zidane, who is always careful about keeping the peace in the dressing room, is in favour of finishing the season with the same players that started it, in a show of almost blind confidence towards his own. The Frenchman put the brakes on the Kepa operation but, according to Euskal Telebista, those higher up in the Madrid club have started to turn the cogs again in an attempt to pay the current clause of the player (20 million euros) and bring him into the team before the end of the winter transfer window. While this all happens in the background, Arrizabalaga continues his treatment in Lezama for his injured toe.