After Thibaut Courtois’ potentially season-ending injury, Real Madrid were forced to enter the market for an emergency reinforcement in the goalkeeping position.
Having assessed several viable targets, Los Blancos narrowed in on Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga and were quickly able to secure his services on a season-long loan deal.
The 28-year-old had been close to joining the Merengues back in January 2018, when he was still at Athletic Club but then-manager Zinedine Zidane blocked the move.
Over five years later, Kepa has now arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu and after being welcomed by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, the goalkeeper said:
“Thank you very much, Presi… for making it possible for me to be here today. I wanted to say a few words for Arda, Thibaut, and Eder because they are going through the hardest time in football. Lots of encouragement and a hug.”
Stating what it means for him to join Real Madrid, he said: “Today is one of the most important and special days of my career. I am very proud to be part of Real Madrid and I face this challenge with great enthusiasm. Work, commitment and effort will not be lacking.
“We all hope that it will be a great period and that we can win many titles to make the legend even bigger. Thank you very much to everyone… and HALA MADRID!”
Kepa’s first press conference as a Real Madrid player
Following that, Kepa addressed his first press conference as a player for Real Madrid and answered various questions pertaining to his move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Talking about how it is a big day for him and his family, the 28-year-old said: “It is a very happy and special day for me and for all my family. Proud to be part of Real Madrid. A day to enjoy and share with those closest to me.”
“I’m more experienced, in one of the best moments of my career. I am ready to face this challenge and, as I said before, I assure commitment and hard work,” he added.
It is no secret that Kepa was in talks to sign for Bayern Munich to join them this summer before Real Madrid entered the picture. Speaking of the same, the Spaniard stated:
“It has been an intense few days, but when I got the proposal from Madrid it was clear to me. The decision was very easy. I had other proposals from important clubs, but when I was told about this option,…. everything was very quick.”
“It was quite quick, a couple of days ago. After training, I got a call. That’s when it all started, it accelerated and it was quite quick. I was with my wife and we were both happy,” he added.
Speaking of his collapsed move to Madrid back in 2018, he added: “You can’t predict football. I focus on every moment and on being aware of all five senses. I’m ready to give 100 percent for Real Madrid, it’s happened when it had to happen.”
During his five years at Chelsea, Kepa has won almost every trophy there is and spoke about his experience, saying:
“I’m certainly much stronger than the day I made my debut. Experiences make you tougher. It’s true that I’ve been through all kinds of situations, but I’ve always tried to keep the good things. I’m looking forward to showing all the good things I’ve gained over the years.”
Talking about the pressure that comes with playing for Real Madrid, Kepa he does not feel any additional pressure. Furthermore, he claimed that the Merengues are the ‘Kings of the Champions League’.
“I still think that Real Madrid is the king of the Champions League. In the last three Champions League, we have faced each other. I think we all agree with that phrase,” Kepa said.
On whether he has had any interactions with his new teammates, he replied: “In the national team I’ve always had team-mates from Madrid and, over the last few years, I’ve been asking them questions and getting feedback from them and everything is great.
“What you see from the outside is already spectacular and, when you get in touch with them, they reaffirm it.”
The Spain star also spoke about how he grew up watching club legend Iker Casillas and what it feels to play for Real Madrid, saying:
“I’ve always grown up watching Casillas in goal for Real Madrid. It’s always felt like a huge club… because to play for Real Madrid is a source of pride.”
On his time at Chelsea, he said: “I have been at a great club for five years, where we have fought for every title. I have had the opportunity to lift titles for Chelsea. When I look back I see everything positive and an experience for life.”
Kepa has been given the No. 25 shirt at Real Madrid with Courtois having the No. 1 jersey and Andriy Lunin holding the No. 13 kit.
“I chose it because 1 and 13 were taken. I’m happy to wear 25…. but I don’t want to get into comparisons. I’m here to build my path and whatever I do and don’t do will be in my name,” Kepa said.
The goalkeeper then admitted that he wishes to make his loan move a permanent one at the end of the season, saying:
“I hope so. Today is the first day of my loan. We have time, we will see. Hopefully, with my performance, I can make that happen.”
Signing off, Kepa revealed that he had spoken to Courtois and said: “I have spoken to him. He is going through the worst part of football. I send him a lot of encouragement and the best of recoveries. I hope he can be with us soon.”
Source: Real Madrid official website
Bellingham on his special assist in Girona 0-3 Real Madrid: “Been watching Luka every day”
Real Madrid usurped the top spot in the La Liga standings from arch-rivals FC Barcelona as they defeated Girona 3-0 away at Estadi Montilivi.
It was a fine performance from Carlo Ancelotti’s men against Michel’s side, with the returning Jude Bellingham leading the way for his team.
After being benched against Las Palmas in midweek, the England international returned to the starting XI today and turned in yet another Man of the Match display for Real Madrid.
It all started with Joselu opening the scoring just 15 minutes into the game, with Bellingham assisting the goal with a special, outside-of-the-boot pass from the left side, bringing back memories of Luka Modric doing something similar a few years ago.
Talking about that special pass, Bellingham said: “I’ve been watching Luka every day for months. I just want to be creative. It took the pressure off us at the start.”
On the match and the result, the 20-year-old stated that it was a good day across the board for Real Madrid, as he said: “It was an important win. They were doing very well. We made a statement of intent to La Liga. Three goals, a clean sheet….”
It has been a truly remarkable start to life at Real Madrid for Bellingham and expressing how he feels to play for the Merengues, he exclaimed:
“I feel very good. I have freedom of movement and I’m enjoying football. Whenever I put on this shirt I always try to do my best.”
Apart from assisting Joselu’s opener, Bellingham also got his name on the scoresheet in the second period. Talking about his goal, the wonderkid said:
“It wasn’t a very good finish. I could have scored some more, but the important thing is the victory.”
The strike meant that Bellingham now has seven goals and two assists across all competitions for Real Madrid. Reflecting on his brilliant start, he said:
“It’s a good start, not bad. I would like to continue on this path and I won’t always score or assist, but I will always give my best.”
Bellingham’s celebration has been a huge hit, with kids in school, players from other clubs, and many others mimicking it. When asked how his special celebration originated, he replied:
“I don’t know where I first celebrated. I think it was with Birmingham. It’s an inspiration to see kids doing it in schools. It’s a wonderful thing.”