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Real Madrid are understood to be on the verge of signing Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao. It is being reported that he has passed the medical and has also inked a contract with the club but an official announcement is yet to happen. However, a report from AS states that there are two joining dates – one for now and one in June. Depending on the situation and the requirement, Zinedine Zidane can choose the date accordingly.
Since the player is injured at present, Los Blancos are willing to wait to sign him in the summer window. That said, there is no denying that the 23-year-old will be a valuable addition regardless of when he joins. Hence, let’s take a closer look at his profile.
Born in 1994 in Ondarroa, Spain, Arrizabalaga embarked on his youth career at the age of 10 with his current team Athletic Bilbao. It took him a while to progress through the ranks and although he was called up to be a part of the main team on a few occasions in 2012, he was only used as a substitute.
In 2013, he received a promotion to the reserves team and maintained a clean sheet on his debut. From then on, he appeared quite regularly for the club but a couple of injuries hampered his time on the field.
Nevertheless, Arrizabalaga soldiered on and was sent out on loan to Real Valladolid in 2015. He put in quite an impressive display for them and upon his return, he was included in Athletic Bilbao’s first team. Initially, he was the third-choice keeper but the player has certainly worked his way up.
One trait that sets Arrizabalaga apart from a lot of goalkeepers of his age is his lightning-fast reflexes. Usually, it takes a certain amount of experience to develop such a skill but the Spanish youngster seems to have an innate ability for the same.
His distribution is quite impressive and he harbours the strength to stop long shots. As far as concentration goes, Arrizabalaga’s focus remains solid throughout the game. The goalkeeper is also quite adept at saving penalties. The only aspect he needs to work on is his ability to catch crosses but that is something that can be ironed out eventually.
A move to the Santiago Bernabeu does sound like a dream and for a 23-year-old goalkeeper, this could be the stepping stone to greater achievements and opportunities. Keylor Navas is 31 years of age and cannot provide too many years of top-class football from here on. It will be interesting to see the team dynamic once Arrizabalaga joins, but in the situation, he is most likely to be used as a second-choice keeper as Zidane is expected to ease him into the team.