Thibaut Courtois is Real Madrid’s most significant signing of the past four seasons. For the first time since Toni Kroos in 2014, the club have swooped for a player who will be elevated straight into their starting eleven.
This was an opportunity they could not pass up. At a reported €35m, the Belgian international’s valuation by Chelsea had been significantly watered down by him entering the final year of his contract.
This was a summer when the long-standing world record transfer for a goalkeeper – paid by Juventus for Gianlugi Buffon in 2001 – was broken twice. Firstly by Liverpool in their £68m deal for Roma’s Alisson Becker before Chelsea, in replacing Courtois, Spent £71m on Kepa Arrizabalaga. Both had been transfer targets for Madrid, but their price tags and the complications of such pursuits ensured they did not go through.
Now the Belgian international – who starred at this summer’s World Cup, winning the Golden Gloves award – has arrived at the Bernabeu for half the price. It does leave a rather lopsided squad in terms of numbers. Keylor Navas, Kiko Casilla, Luca Zidane and Andriy Lunin, the latter of whom arrived from Zorya Luhansk this summer. It is likely both Casilla and Zidane will move on this summer, but perhaps surprisingly, Navas will stay.
The Costa Rican compared leaving Madrid to dying when asked about his future following the arrival of Courtois and while that sounds a little extreme, it shows how committed he is to the club. Since signing from Levante four years ago, he has been first choice in three consecutive Champions League titles.
This had also been developing into a concerning summer for the European champions. Cristiano Ronaldo and not being replaced sounded almost inconceivable two months ago but now it has been normalised due to the rhetoric emerging from the Spanish capital. Instead Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will be tasked with replacing Ronaldo’s goal tally of upwards of 40 per season.
Rumours had since emerged of Luka Modric contemplating a remarkable move to Inter, while Mateo Kovacic – who had limited game time at the club – has signed joined Chelsea on loan. Vinicius Junior’s arrival will perhaps help rejuvenate an experienced squad while Alvaro Odriozola’s arrival at right-back was a notable investment.
There are still gaps in this Madrid squad and it would be no great surprise if they seeked an additional central defender and left-back. Theo Hernandez looks set to exit on loan and cover is needed for Marcelo, while Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane may need extra cover.
The days of Los Blancos spending big appear to be over, for now. The arrival of Courtois – who was once the target of coin throwing from Madrid’s support during his loan stint at Atletico Madrid – is an act of opportunism. The goalkeeper moves closer to his young family and the Spanish giants have solved a long-term sector of their squad.
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