Chelsea smash goalkeeper record after crazy Courtois twist

Chelsea have been forced to break Liverpool’s record deal for a goalkeeper after Belgian star Thibaut Courtois got his wish to leave for Real Madrid.

With Thursday’s transfer deadline fast approaching in Britain, the English Premier League giants broughtAthletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arrizabalaga to Stamford Bridge in a seven-year deal worth 80 million euros ($A125 million).

The 23-year-old’s move is a new world record for a goalkeeper, beating the 75 million euros ($A117 million) Liverpool paid for Roma’s Alisson Becker.

The young shot-stopper – who was part of Spain’s World Cup squad earlier this year – is regarded as the one of the brightest prospects in the sport.

Kepa is set to replace Courtois (R) as Chelsea’s new No.1. Pic: Getty

“It’s a very important decision for me, for my career, and also for my personal life,” Arrizabalaga told the club’s official website.

“So many things attracted me to the club, all the titles the club has won, the other players, the city, the English Premier League.

“It’s an accumulation of things, and I am very glad Chelsea has decided to trust me and to take me in as well.”

Making the deal even more extraordinary is the fact Real will pay considerably less for a keeper widely regarded as one of the world’s best.

Kepa was part of Spain’s 2018 World Cup squad. Pic: Getty

Madrid will fork out an initial 35 million euros ($A54 million) for Courtois, who has signed a six-year contract.

The Spanish giants announced the keeper’s signing in a statement.

“The Golden Glove (winner) from the last World Cup signs for the Champions League champions after his impressive performance in Russia,” the statement read.

“After his medical on Thursday August 9, the player will be presented in the presidential box at the Santiago Bernabeu.”

The 26-year-old previously played for Atletico Madrid on loan from Chelsea for three years between 2011-14 and wanted to return to the Spanish capital, where his children live.

“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the four fantastic years that have passed. Chelsea FC will always have a fantastic place in my heart,” Courtois said on Facebook.

Courtois was a standout for Belgium at the World Cup in Russia. Pic: Getty

“I want to thank the fans for their great support over the years. I hope you understand that being closer to my kids was considerable in my decision.”

Courtois played 154 times for Chelsea after arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2011, keeping 58 clean sheets.

British media reported the Belgian, who has played 65 times for his country and helped them reach this year’s World Cup semi-finals, did not show up for training at Chelsea for the past two days in a bid to force through the transfer.

Courtois is set to take over as Julen Lopetegui’s first- choice goalkeeper at the Santiago Bernabeu, with Keylor Navas and Kiko Casilla likely to be demoted.

Madrid have attempted to replace Navas in each of the previous two close seasons, despite the Costa Rican helping them win three Champions League titles in three years.

As part of the deal, Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic, 24, will also come to the Bridge on loan for the season and will compete for a place in Chelsea’s midfield under new manager Maurizio Sarri.

With AAP