Athletic Bilbao's Kepa Arrizabalaga not paying attention to Real Madrid talk
Athletic Bilbao and Spain goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga says he is aware of rumours linking him with a move to Real Madrid next summer, but remains focused on performing for his current club and national team.
Kepa, 23, is out of contract with Athletic in June and has been heavily linked for months with a move to Madrid, who in recent years have made efforts to sign the best young Spanish talent, including Marco Asensio and Dani Ceballos.
After keeping a clean sheet on his Spain debut in Friday's 5-0 friendly win over Costa Rica, the keeper told reporters that he was focused on his displays on the pitch and not on any ongoing transfer speculation.
"I've just made my debut, I am happy, enjoying this moment," Kepa said. "I am a player of Athletic and the national team, and there's little else I can say. The truth is the [rumours] do not make me nervous. You hear them, you see them, I am not blind and know what is going on around me. But I know I am who I am for what I do, not for what people say. I try to keep a calm head."
Although in just his second season as a regular starter at Athletic, Kepa has long been tipped for the top. He shares an agent with Ceballos and the pair reached the European Under-21 Championship final with Spain last summer, along with current Madrid squad members Asensio, Jesus Vallejo, Marcos Llorente and Borja Mayoral.
Speculation has continuously linked Kepa with Madrid through recent months, including a Marca cover story last week, which claimed the European champions could meet his €20 million release clause to avoid any souring of relations with Athletic.
In October, Marca reported that Madrid goalkeeping coach Luis Llopis was keen to team up again with a player he worked with at Athletic.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan