Real Madrid have received a major setback in pursuit of Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has a new long-term contract with Athletic Bilbao.

Athletic Bilbao have made an official statement to announce that Kepa Arrizabalaga has signed a new contract that will keep him at San Mames till June 30, 2025. The new deal contains a release clause worth €80 million, handing Real Madrid a major blow in pursuit of the goalkeeper.

Kepa Arrizabalaga is one of the jewels of the latest generation of senior footballers in Spain, having made a splash in the junior levels in recent years. Over the last 18 months, the youngster has been a revelation for Athletic Bilbao as well, and is now firmly established as the first-choice custodian at San Mames.

This season, Kepa has been in formidable form once again despite Athletic Bilbao’s struggle to remain consistent. In all, Kepa has made 15 appearances for the club, and while he has only managed to keep 4 clean sheets, it’s the resistance that he has provided between the sticks that has impressed the watchers.

His performances have also helped him make his senior Spain debut, and the shot stopper is now a regular in the National Squad. In addition to all that, one of the biggest clubs in the world, Real Madrid, have been in hot pursuit of Kepa for the better part of the last half a season.

Los Blancos have been constantly linked with several goalkeepers over the last three years, with the shot stoppers at the Bernabeu failing to measure up, especially in the last 18 months or so. While Kiko Casilla never showed first-choice pedigree at Real Madrid, Keylor Navas has been highly consistent in the recent times.

The need to sign a top goalkeeper has, thus, been imperative for the Spanish and European champions, and Kepa has been their first-choice target, as per the recent reports. But, Real Madrid have now received a setback in the 23-year-old’s pursuit.

Kepa has put pen to paper on a new contract with Athletic Bilbao, tying him up with the club till June 30, 2025. The deal also contains a €80 million release clause which, if paid, would make the Spaniard the most expensive goalkeeper of all time, although it is unclear whether Real Madrid are willing to shell out the aforementioned amount.

If not, the La Liga heavyweights might just turn their attention back to Thibaut Courtois, who is yet to agree terms with Chelsea over a new deal. David De Gea is a long-term option as well, but the Spaniard is expected to sign a new deal with Manchester United soon, and it remains to be seen who Real Madrid end up signing, if at all.

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