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Contract dispute offers hope to Arsenal in their pursuit of Spanish stopper

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Arsenal still have some hope of signing Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga despite reports that the Spaniard is poised to sign a new deal.

The Marca report that has been cited by numerous English media sources in the last few days actually says there has been a stagnation in contract talks between Kepa and Bilbao.

As we reported last week, the inclusion of the €75million release clause has been a major stumbling but Marca are also saying that the Spanish Under 21 international is upset by Bilbao’s penny pinching.

They have failed to offer him above €3m a year as he had expected, while having already given star defender Aymeric Laporte €4m a season. The reason for the club lowballing Kepa is believed to be because they don’t want to set a precedent.

With a number of players looking for new contracts, Bilbao would then have to offer the same terms to others. Negotiations between Kepa and the club have now been going on for nine months, but the player is still determined to stay currently. He has asked his agent not to entertain offers from other clubs yet.

That could still change however if the contract impasse continues. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been looking for a long term replacement for Petr Cech since the summer. The Evening Standard reported he was keen on Jordan Pickford before his £30m switch to Everton.

Kepa, who is 23, is one of Europe’s highest rated young goalkeepers, and the Gunners would certainly be considering him, but his lack of interest at pursuing options further afield than Bilbao makes a transfer unlikely still.

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