Real Madrid have been tipped to seal the signing of Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga within the first week of the January transfer window next month. Failing that, the 23-year-old is at least expected to be at the Bernabeu before the winter deadline passes.
Growing rumours in recent weeks suggest that patience has finally ended with incumbent number one Keylor Navas and that Real chiefs want a change between the sticks.
Former Spain Under-21 international Kepa has been identified as one of the top rising goalkeepers in Europe and is seemingly so highly regarded by Los Blancos that they are ready to give up on trying to sign David de Gea or Thibaut Courtois.
Kepa is out of contract in Bilbao at the end of the season. According to Marca, it remains his intention not to sign a new deal. Yet rather than wait until summer to sign him as a free agent, the report states that Real will meet his €20m buyout clause next month to strike a deal sooner.
The Spanish sports daily claims that Kepa has already agreed a contract that will keep him tied to Real for six seasons until 2024. He will also be earning a net annual salary of €2.5m, the same as other young recent signings, Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos.
Kepa has only missed one La Liga game for Bilbao so far this season - the result of a short bout of illness - and remains in with a chance of making Spain's World Cup squad for the summer.
The player made his senior international debut last month in a friendly against Costa Rica. He will face competition from Pepe Reina and Sergio Rico to make the final 23-man group, but potentially establishing himself as Real Madrid number one over the second half of the season would surely help his cause no end.