Who is Kepa Arrizabalaga? The Spanish shot stopper linked with Real Madrid and Arsenal

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La Liga champions are keen on the highly-rated young keeper as they look for an alternative to Manchester United’s David De Gea, writes Sam May.

It is understood Los Blancos are close to admitting defeat in their pursuit for Spain’s No.1 keeper and will turn their attention to the San Mamés youngster.

So who just is Arrizabalaga?

The 23-year-old Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper is one of the best young players in Europe. At 6ft 2ins, he is blessed with composure and maturity beyond his years. Making a number of high profile saves in the last year, his profile has risen.

Having played 22 times for the Spain Under-21s, he will look to challenge David De Gea in the near future. It’s Arrizabalaga’s decision-making and agility that makes him one of the recent stand out figures in La Liga.

Born in Ondarroa, in the Bay of Biscay, he has been with Athletic Bilbao since the age of ten-years-old. It is unlikely he will extend his stay and will seek a move away. He played at every age group for the club, went out on loan to second division sides Ponferradina and Valladolid, and was then named as third keeper for the first team by Marcelo Bielsa. It was current Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde who gradually made him first choice after originally alternating him with Athletic stalwart Gorka Iraizoz.

Currently in his final year of his Bilbao contract, from January, the keeper is able to sign a pre-contact with another club and both Real Madrid and Arsenal have expressed interest. As he is under 24, Arrizabalaga cannot move on a free transfer so a compensation package would have to be agreed.

A fee of around £18 million is understood to be enough to prize him away from Los Leones. Arsenal have previously scouted the promising keeper, but are unlikely going to be able to match the wages that could be offered by Florentino Perez.

In signing Arrizabalaga, either team would have a tremendous talent for a decade or so.

 

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