Kepa Arrizabalaga pays €80m release clause ahead of Chelsea move

Athletic Bilbao have confirmed that Kepa Arrizabalaga has paid the €80 million (£71.5m) buyout clause in his contract as he edges closer to completing a move to Chelsea.

Sources told ESPN FC on Tuesday that Chelsea had informed Kepa they were prepared to pay the clause -- which makes him the world's most expensive goalkeeper as well as the club's record signing -- leaving the final decision in the player's hands.

Kepa flew from Bilbao to Madrid on Tuesday for talks with his representatives, and on Wednesday the money was officially deposited at La Liga's offices to terminate his contract with Athletic and pave the way for him to join Chelsea.

"On Wednesday 8 August, 2018, at 12:02 hours, the Spanish Football League [LFP] has certified to our club that player Kepa Arrizabalaga has complied with the requirements to end unilaterally his contract that linked him with Athletic Club," a statement issued by Athletic read.

"The cited note points out that the player has stated his wish to end and resolve unilaterally his contractual relationship that had started in the 2004/05 campaign and has deposited the compensation fee that was established in his contract.

"Athletic thank the player for his contribution throughout the time he has been at the club."

Kepa is now expected to fly to London to undergo a medical and finalise a move to Stamford Bridge, while confirmation of his arrival should also see Thibaut Courtois granted permission to join Real Madrid in a £35m deal.

Spanish radio station Onda Cero claimed Madrid hope to unveil Courtois at Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday, with personal terms for a deal already agreed.

Courtois did not report for Chelsea training this week in an attempt to force a move away from Stamford Bridge, prompting the Blues to scramble around for a replacement and swiftly identify Kepa as their preferred target.

Kepa was close to joining Madrid for as little as €20m in January, but the deal was blocked by then-coach Zinedine Zidane, and Athletic responded by committing their prized asset to a new long-term contract, which increased his buyout figure to €80m.

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Athletic do not negotiate when it comes to selling their top stars because they limit themselves to only signing Basque players, meaning the only way Chelsea could bring Kepa to Stamford Bridge was by activating his buyout clause.

Kepa is expected to train with his new Chelsea teammates for the first time on Thursday and could even make his debut in the club's opening Premier League fixture against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

ESPN FC's Madrid correspondent Dermot Corrigan contributed to this report.