Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga has joined Real Madrid on a season-long loan to replace the injured Thibaut Courtois, the two clubs announced on Monday.
“Real Madrid and Chelsea FC have agreed on the loan of player Kepa Arrizabalaga until June 30, 2024,” the Spanish club said in a statement.
Belgian star Courtois, 31, will miss most of the season after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Kepa, 28, had been close to a transfer to Bayern Munich, but will instead return to his native Spain.
Bayern board chairman Jan-Christian Dreesen had said on Sunday that the Bavarian club were thinking of presenting Kepa “today or tomorrow, but the offer from Real Madrid has arrived. Kepa is Spanish, that’s normal that he accepts it”.
The former Athletic Bilbao keeper came close to signing for Real in 2018 but instead joined Chelsea for £71 million ($90 million) and lifted the Europa League trophy in his first season.
The Spaniard was also involved in Chelsea’s Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA World Club Cup triumphs in 2021.
However, Kepa lost his Chelsea place to compatriot Robert Sanchez at the start of this term, with the summer signing from Brighton playing in Chelsea’s season-opening 1-1 draw against Liverpool on Sunday.
“The club wish him well for the season ahead in Madrid, where he will work with former Chelsea head coach Carlo Ancelotti,” the Blues said in a statement.