2. Kepa Arrizabalaga
During the first half of the 2017/18 season, Real Madrid’s No.1 Keylor Navas had some injury issues, which forced Zidane to have the second-choice Kiko Casilla between the sticks for a stretch of games. And the Spanish keeper was badly exposed in some of the games, with regular mistakes making him look like a liability at times.
This made the club feel the need to have a better second-choice keeper, who was preferably young and talented enough to replace the then 31-year-old Costa Rican Navas in the future. They saw Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa Arizzabalaga, whose contract was going to expire in 2018, as the ideal choice.
Real Madrid almost closed on in Kepa in January 2018, as the Basque man had his medicals at Real Madrid done. But the move was stopped by none other than the team’s manager Zinedine Zidane, who didn’t want a change in the squad midway through the season. The transfer ultimately failed, and Kepa renewed his contract at Athletic Club.
Six months later, Thibaut Courtois was signed by Real Madrid, and Chelsea purchased Kepa for a world-record fee for a keeper of 80 million euros. While Courtois went on to become the best goalkeeper in the world after a slow start to life at Madrid, Kepa’s deal proved to be a disastrous one for Chelsea, as the keeper had a very tough time in London, and has been relegated to the bench.
Three months after the failed transfer, Zinedine Zidane said that he had no regrets over missing out on Kepa, and even President Florentino Perez might be feeling the same after all these years. With that one decision, Zidane saved the club from a bad transfer and deserves more credit than the President in this case.