Scout Report – Kepa Arrizabalaga
Kepa Arrizabalaga is fast emerging as one of the brightest goalkeeping talents in Europe. Currently playing for Atheltic Bilbao, the youngster is on Real Madrid’s radar as the La Liga club continues to make an effort to sign homegrown Spanish talent. Although Real have been constantly linked with David De Gea, it does seem like they might shift their focus to options closer to home.
Speculation has linked Kepa with Madrid but it remains to be seen if Athletic Bilbao agree to sell him to a rival club. However, they can be tempted with the right amount of money and Real are certainly capable of that.
Born in 1994 in the Bay of Biscay, Arrizabalaga joined Atheltic Bilbao at the tender age of 10. He rapidly progressed through the ranks as he gained valuable experience playing at every age group for the club. He was loaned out to a couple of second division clubs – Ponferradina and Valladolid, and was then named as the third choice keeper for the Bilbao first-team by then manager Marcelo Bielsa.
Interestingly, it was current Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde who eventually made him the first choice at the club, and there has been no looking back ever since.
The shot-stopper is slightly over 6 ft tall but his composure and maturity in goal are astonishing. His reflexes are extremely quick which is a much-needed characteristic in a goalkeeper. The fact that he is so quick makes it easier for him to make decisions when he is put under pressure, which makes it a massive strength of his.
Given the player that he is, it comes as no surprise that Real are now targeting him. However, he needs to improve aerially but he is quite young and has plenty of time to learn from and work on his mistakes.
Athletic Bilbao may not be keen on letting one of their prized assets leave but they will not deny a hefty sum of money from Real Madrid. If the move happens, it could certainly spell wonders for the young Spaniard’s career.
Considering the situation at Santiago Bernabeu, Arrizabalaga may be thrust straight into Madrid’s first-team over Keylor Navas. If things work out, he is likely to continue at the club for a long time and Los Blancos should look at him as a long-term target.