There has been significant concern over the future of Kepa Arrizabalaga among Athletic fans and with good reason. The keeper is entering the final year of his contract and, if he doesn’t sign a renewal, will be free to negotiate with other clubs starting in January. Athletic have been busy in negotiations over a renewal for several months now but there is nothing to show for it. With rumors that other clubs such as Real Madrid may be interested in the 22-year-old, fans fear that the Lezama product may be on the way out. However, that isn’t the plan for Kepa.
According to a new report from Javier Ortiz De Lazcano of El Correo, Kepa Arrizabalaga has told Athletic that he wants to stay at the Club and has no plans to leave. That being said, he still wants to be paid fairly and that is the source of the issues regarding his renewal.
Naturally, Athletic want to place a very high release clause in Kepa’s contract, somewhere near Aymeric Laporte’s €65 million. However, they have not offered him the wages that he believes he deserves. The club feels that since Kepa has only played in 25 games that he should not be one of the highest paid players in the squad, but the keeper disagrees. There are also rumors that Athletic want to give Kepa a low salary and then raise it every so often like they did with Laporte for several years. In his defense, Kepa believes that if he is going to have one of the highest release clauses on the team that he should also have one of the highest wages. Most fans seem to agree that this is a fair request.
The fact that Kepa has told the club that he wants to stay is a big deal. The 22-year-old grew up at Lezama and wants to continue his career at his boyhood club. This should gives fans relief and pride, but there is still worry. Athletic Club only have a few months left to come to an agreement on a contract extension. So far both sides have agreed that the extension will see his deal run through 2022, but there is still the issue of wages. Sources close to the situation seem to believe that a deal will get done before January, but every passing day makes fans more nervous.
Interestingly, Club President Josu Urrutia has been directly involved in the negotiations for a while now, which is rare. He has only been involved in negotiations three other times in his presidency: with Fernando Llorente, Aymeric Laporte, and Raúl García. The President’s involvement shows just how serious the talks are and that Athletic are going to do everything in their power to ensure that Kepa Arrizabalaga remains at the San Mamés. Only time will tell what will happen with the contract negotiations, but it is clear that Kepa has become one of the best keepers in Europe. Athletic have four months to come to an agreement before the keeper will be free to negotiate with other clubs.