Ever since Iker Casillas departed his beloved Real Madrid in the summer of 2015, the club have continually been linked with new goalkeepers. It was a move which saw backup shot-stopper Keylor Navas propelled into number the number one spot and stay there ever since.
The Costa Rican has helped the club to a remarkable feat of winning three consecutive Champions League titles but he may lose his position this summer with various reports across the Spanish press linking the European champions with a move for Chelsea shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois.
Navas has had plenty of doubters ever since the breakdown of Madrid’s move for Manchester United’s David De Gea at the eleventh hour in August 2015. He does not fall into the world’s elite bracket of goalkeepers and is still prone to errors more regularly than is ideal for a club of Madrid’s stature.
He was somewhat of a favourite with Zinedine Zidane, who regularly defended his place in the team and continually placed his trust in him. If reports are to be believed, it was the French coach’s insistence against president Florentino Perez to block a move for Athletic Club Bilbao shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga in January.
However, now Zidane is gone and that could also spell the end for Navas in the first-team at the Bernabeu. Marca reports Madrid as ‘accelerating negotiations’ for Chelsea’s Courtois and a deal could be done next week.
The Belgian’s stock is as high as ever after excelling with his nation at the World Cup where he won the competition’s Golden Gloves award. Many believe he is in the world’s elite bracket of goalkeepers, alongside De Gea, Jan Oblak, Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.
Crucially, he is out of contract at Stamford Bridge in a year’s time and thus his asking price will be significantly watered down. Chelsea will not want to risk losing him on a free transfer and also the real possibility of having a demotivated number one on their hands. It makes sense to sell now and reinvest in a replacement.
The personal situation of Courtois should also not be discounted. Both of his young children still live in Madrid with his ex-partner, following his spell at crosstown rivals Atletico which ended in 2014. He has regularly spoken of a desire to return to the city and such a move would make sense to all parties, in the current situation.
If this move goes through it will still leave questions – such as the future of Navas himself – but it will provide more answers and should also finally kill off, for good, the possibility of Spain’s number one De Gea ever completing that much-talked move to Los Blancos.
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