REAL MADRID will meet Kepa Arrizabalaga’s £17.7million buy-out in January, according to reports in Spain — despite him being available on a free in the summer.
A deal for the Athletic Bilbao stopper effectively ends the Bernabeu giants’ interest in David De Gea.
Kepa, 23, is Spain’s No 2 behind the Manchester United man, who has been a long-term Real Madrid target.
AS report Los Blancos will make the deal in January, to ensure they maintain good terms with the Basque side.
Athletic president Jose Urrutia insists they will not sell any player whose obligatory buy-out clause is not met.
Kepa’s contract expires at the end of the season, but Real Madrid would like him in as soon as possible as they bid to turn their season around.
A recent hand fracture means he may not have played his last game for Athletic, but is not serious enough to endanger the move.
Zinedine Zidane would bring him into the first team squad with a view to him competing against Keylor Navas.
And he would leave the decision over which should become first choice for the second half of the 2017-18 season up to goalkeeper coach Luis Llopis.
Real Madrid hope to complete the deal within the first week of January, and will offer him a six-year contract with around £50,000-a-week net.