Kepa Arrizabalaga is a legend in the making at Athletic Club. After showing incredible potential at Lezama, he was promoted last summer and quickly took the starting job from Gorka Iraizoz. Everyone expected the 22-year-old to one day be the star of the San Mames, but very few saw it happening so quickly. In response, the club has been in talks with Kepa since January regarding a contract extension and it now looks like a deal has been reached.According to several sources close to the situation, Kepa has agreed to extend his contract until 2022. The deal will also include a significant increase to his wages and release clause, which will land somewhere in the €50 million range. The new deal will be signed when he returns from duty with Spain U21 later this summer.
Due to his incredible form last year it wasn’t surprising for other clubs to be linked with a move for Kepa who only has one year left on his contract. Additionally, his €30 million release clause was seen as feasible due to his age and potential. Despite the pressure from other clubs, both Kepa and Athletic have remained very calm in negotiations and were willing to take as long as necessary to work out a deal. Those close to the situation claim that Kepa informed Athletic that he would not even consider an offer from another club, which made talks much easier.
Both sides wanted to reach an agreement back in February, but the smaller details still needed to be worked out. It’s true that the negotiations have taken much longer than expected, but Kepa has been very clear that he wants to stay at Athletic and the club wants to give him the contract that he deserves. As reported several months ago, the new deal will run through 2022 with a release clause somewhere near €50 million. Sources say that the extension is completed and the only thing remaining is his signature, which will take place when he returns from international duty.
Kepa Arrizabalaga will now become one of the highest paid players at Athletic and join the list of young stars whom the club has shielded for the future. Inaki Williams, Yeray, and Aymeric Laporte all have long-term contracts in place as well and have quickly formed the nucleus of Athletic’s future. Finalizing Kepa’s new contract was the most important thing the club had to get done this summer and they will now set their sights on securing the transfers for Mikel Merino and Alex Berenguer.