Real Madrid agree Courtois deal with Chelsea


Real Madrid have agreed terms with Chelsea to sign goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois on a six-year deal, with Mateo Kovacic set to go the other way on loan.

Belgium goalkeeper Courtois has long been a reported target for the European champions and he will leave Stamford Bridge subject to the completion of a medical on Thursday.

The 26-year-old had entered the final year of his deal at the Premier League club and made no secret of his desire to move to the Spanish capital, the home of his children and where he previously spent three seasons with Atletico Madrid.

In return, Julen Lopetegui’s side have sanctioned a one-season loan spell at Chelsea for wantaway midfielder Kovacic, who is yet to fully settle at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 24-year-old, who was part of the Croatia side that reached the World Cup final, made just 10 starts in LaLiga last term and will hope for greater opportunities with the Blues, although neither club made mention of the potential for a permanent transfer.

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Welcome to @realmadrid, @thibautcourtois!#WelcomeCourtois| #HalaMadrid

— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) August 8, 2018
Chelsea are now expected to push through a move for Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga in what would be a world-record £72million deal for a goalkeeper as they seek to usher in a new number one before Thursday’s transfer deadline.

Courtois will prove a tough act to follow, with the former Genk man leaving after two Premier League titles, an EFL Cup and an FA Cup since replacing Petr Cech as first-choice at the start of the 2014-15 season.

That followed three seasons on loan at Atleti, which culminated in Diego Simeone’s side pipping Barcelona and Madrid to LaLiga glory.

His arrival as a near-guaranteed starter casts doubt over the future of incumbent shot-stopper Keylor Navas.

The Costa Rica international would have had Kepa as a challenger in January if not for the 23-year-old’s late decision to spurn an offer in favour of seeing out the 2017-18 campaign with Bilbao.

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