Athletic running Real risk with Kepa but confident keeper will stay

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The highly rated 23-year-old is drawing admiring glances from Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus as his current contract runs down

Athletic Bilbao are confident they can keep highly-rated goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalanga out of Real Madrid’s clutches and tie him to fresh terms, Goal understands.

The talented 23-year-old continues to see his current contract run down, with no extension agreed to a deal set to expire in June 2018.

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If no terms are put in place soon, then Kepa will be free to speak with interested parties from January.

Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a move for a player that they could agree a pre-contract deal with in the New Year, with questions continuing to be asked of Keylor Navas.

Manchester United’s David de Gea and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois have been mooted as top targets in the past, but the Blancos are now looking closer to home within the La Liga ranks.

Barcelona are also reported to be keen on Kepa, along with fellow European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Juventus.

Karim Benzema Kepa

Goal, though, has learned that Athletic remain in a strong position to retain the services of the former Spain U21 international as he has no desire to move on.

Kepa’s preference would be to remain with the Basque club, but he wants to see his standing recognised in any fresh terms.

Athletic president Josu Urrutia is eager to negotiate a release clause which will make Kepa the most valuable asset at San Mames, with a €70 million price tag set to lift him above the €65m exit trigger in Aymeric Laporte’s contract.

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Base salary will also have to be raised considerably, though, if a compromise is to be reached.

Kepa’s current wage does not place him within the top three earners at Athletic, and that situation will have to change in order for the relevant paperwork to be signed.

There is, however, a desire on all sides to get a deal done and negotiations remain ongoing as Kepa and his representatives wait on a suitable offer to be tabled.

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