Kepa Arrizabalaga is the new flavour of the month in Real Madrid’s goalkeeper chase. He’s Spanish, has a contract ending at Athletic Club Bilbao in June, and could conceivably be persuaded to be eased in as competition to Keylor Navas.
David de Gea has of course been Real Madrid’s long standing target and whilst there have been other targets too, such as Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid, they’ve both been missing a key component… they’re not Spanish.
Having enjoyed Iker Casillas as Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper for so long, the De Gea attraction for Florentino Perez was partly replicating that situation. With it being seen as too difficult to get De Gea from Manchester United, Kepa is increasingly viewed as the long term alternative, because he could eventually take over from the United stopper for Spain.
There’s around four years difference between the two men, with De Gea turning 27 in November and Kepa just turning 23, which isn’t huge and it would very much be a long game for Perez. It’s conceivable De Gea could go towards his mid thirties as Spain’s first choice if his career takes the expected path.
Still, it’s the line Marca are taking, but they can’t quite help mentioning, once again, how Navas was almost at Manchester United and De Gea at Real Madrid.
Marca state: ‘Florentino always wanted to sign De Gea. He was about to materialise his wish on several occasions. It is well known the history of the fax that failed, when it was taken for granted the transfer of the goalkeeper to Madrid, and Keylor was about to take a plane to Manchester. Last summer, Madrid tried again, but Zidane stopped the operation.’
Zinedine Zidane pulling Madrid out of the De Gea chase in more recent windows is the line in Spain, and it may well be true, wanting more calm than disruption in his squad.
But perhaps by, once again, ramming home how close the De Gea/Navas deal was, whilst also talking up Kepa, it’s part of a new plan for the Manchester United goalkeeper.
As long as Real Madrid have Keylor Navas as their first choice, De Gea knows he has a reasonable chance of moving to the club, the power is on his side. Should Kepa be signed and show he actually is the long term answer, then the path is closed for De Gea, and maybe that’s a message being sent.