The very gloomy outlook for Chelsea’s upcoming Premier League season just got a little bit brighter, albeit at a hefty cost. The Blues welcomed a new goalkeeper to the club today in Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, who pretty understandably just goes by “Kepa” most of the time. Kepa’s price tag, paid a day before the transfer deadline, is reportedly a record-breaking figure of £71.6 million. That’s the most anyone in the EPL has ever paid for a goalkeeper, and it’s a sum that Chelsea had previously refused to give up for their number-one goalkeeping target of the offseason—Roma’s Alisson, who went to Liverpool for £67 million. Good planning.
But Chelsea had no choice but to shell out for the 23-year-old shotstopper who only has one-and-a-half seasons of La Liga experience under his belt, because the Blues also agreed to a deal with Real Madrid today that will send Thibault Courtois back to the Spanish capital after four seasons in net for Chelsea. Courtois made it known that he wanted to leave London just a few days ago, and since his Chelsea contract expired at the end of this upcoming season, it didn’t make sense for his club to hesitate. They reportedly got £35 million for Courtois, alongside a year-long loan for midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who’ll likely replace big-time flop Tiémoué Bakayoko as he scuttles off to Milan.
It could be worse! In fact, for as awful a situation as Chelsea were in just this past weekend, they’ve limited the damage just about as much as they could have hoped for. They got rid of their unhappy keeper with an expiring contract and picked up a younger dude who’s locked in for several years, while also upgrading their midfield to the point where it could rank among England’s best. Kepa is relatively unproven, sure, and losing about £35 million in a downgrade at goalie isn’t exactly ideal. But if the kid does pan out as a long-term number-one at Chelsea, it’ll be worth it. And anyway, what’s a few dozen million pounds to a billionaire owner like Roman Abramovich? The important thing is, Chelsea aren’t exactly falling apart anymore—even if they’re held together with masking tape and crazy glue.