Al-Ittihad's big bid for Chelsea's £72m flop, Real Madrid monitoring situation

AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea FC - Premier League
AFC Bournemouth v Chelsea FC - Premier League / Steve Bardens/GettyImages

Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad have made a significant offer for Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The 29-year-old Spaniard, who holds the title of the world's most expensive goalkeeper, recently completed a loan spell at Real Madrid where he experienced both triumphs and setbacks.

Kepa's journey at Real Madrid was marked by ups and downs. He initially stepped in for the injured Thibaut Courtois but eventually lost his starting position to Andriy Lunin. Despite this, Kepa ended the season as a champion, winning both the Spanish league and the Champions League titles. However, Real Madrid showed little inclination to make his move permanent, especially after he was relegated to a backup role.

With just one year remaining on his contract, Kepa is set to return to Chelsea's Cobham training ground for preseason preparations. Nevertheless, his future at the London club remains uncertain. According to Spanish publication Marca, the offer from Al-Ittihad is substantial and enticing, making it challenging for Kepa to decline. The goalkeeper has requested time to contemplate his options, hoping that Real Madrid might reconsider their stance given the unresolved situation with Lunin, who is also in the final year of his contract.

Al-Ittihad's pursuit of Kepa is driven by their need to replace veteran goalkeeper Marcelo Grôhe, who has parted ways with the club. The Saudi club is determined to bolster their goalkeeping department and views Kepa as a crucial acquisition.

Kepa Arrizabalaga
Real Madrid UEFA Champions League Trophy Parade / Antonio Villalba/GettyImages

Meanwhile, Real Madrid finds themselves in a state of uncertainty regarding their backup goalkeeper position. Although Thibaut Courtois is expected to be the first-choice keeper next season, Lunin's unclear future has compelled the club to explore potential replacements, with Kepa being one of the options.

Chelsea seems willing to facilitate Kepa's exit, provided they receive a suitable offer. The club is evaluating various proposals and is likely to accept one that benefits all parties involved. Kepa would welcome a return to Real Madrid, but as things stand, this scenario appears unlikely. However, if it were to materialise, it would be a positive development for both the player and the club.

A potential move to Al-Ittihad could see Kepa reunite with former Chelsea teammate N'Golo Kante, who joined the Saudi club last summer. The transfer would also provide Chelsea with a financial boost as they strive to balance their books and adhere to Financial Fair Play regulations. The club has already offloaded several players, including Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech, Lewis Hall, Omari Hutchinson, and Ian Maatsen, generating over £80 million in the process.

Chelsea's transfer strategy this summer has centred around streamlining the squad and generating funds. Players such as Armando Broja, Romelu Lukaku, Trevoh Chalobah, Ben Chilwell, Mykhailo Mudryk, and Conor Gallagher are also being considered for potential sales.

The club is keen to offload high-profile players, with Romelu Lukaku being a prime candidate. AC Milan and Napoli are leading the race to secure Lukaku's signature, with Chelsea demanding a fee in excess of £30 million.

New Chelsea boss Enzo Maresca is determined to revamp the squad, which could see both Kepa and Robert Sanchez being sold. These departures would generate the necessary funds to help Chelsea secure their top goalkeeper target, Diogo Costa, who has been a standout performer for Portugal at Euro 2024