Chelsea appear to be poised to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga for a world-record fee for a goalkeeper after Athletic Bilbao announced his buyout clause had been met.
The Basque club on Wednesday confirmed the 23-year-old’s release clause of 80million euros (£71m) was activated and his contract terminated, although made no mention of Chelsea.
The fee is a world record for a goalkeeper, surpassing the £65m paid by Liverpool to Roma for Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker last month.
The Blues have reportedly made Kepa their number one target to replace wantaway Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
A statement on Athletic’s official website read: “On Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at 1202 hours (CET), the Professional Football League confirmed to us that the player, Kepa Arrizabalaga, has met the requirements for the valid unilateral termination of the work contract that linked him to Athletic Club.
“The amount of the compensation established in the contract has been deposited.
“Athletic thanks the player for his contribution during the time he has remained in our club.”
Courtois has been absent from training this week ahead of Thursday’s closure of the transfer window for Premier League clubs.
The 26-year-old, named the best goalkeeper at the World Cup as Belgium finished third, has one year remaining on his contract and reportedly wishes to join Real Madrid.
Courtois spent three years on loan at Atletico Madrid from Chelsea, before becoming the Blues’ number one in 2014-15.
Real head coach Julen Lopetegui refused to comment on Courtois after his side’s friendly win over Roma in New Jersey on Tuesday, insisting that Keylor Navas remains his number one.
Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic has been linked with a move in the opposite direction. Marca reported Kovacic has travelled to London for a medical with the Blues.
Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri declined to discuss Courtois or Kepa after his side’s final pre-season friendly on Tuesday night, against Lyon at Stamford Bridge.