The story goes that Thibaut Courtois slept with a poster of the Santiago Bernabeu above his bed when he was a teenager back in Belgium. This was revealed by a journalist who decided to omit this detail from a story he did about the goalkeeper on the verge of his move to Atletico Madrid, as to ensure the youngster didn’t become a target.
This detail goes some way to explaining why Courtois looked so elated to be revealed as a Real Madrid player on Thursday, even kissing the new badge on his chest as he was presented to the club’s fans. It’s the move that the Belgian shot-stopper had pined for and went some way to ensuring happened.
But what does this move mean for Keylor Navas, the goalkeeper who has won four Champions League titles in five years with Real Madrid? The Costa Rican is considered one of the best in the game and yet the Spanish giants have sought to replace him every single summer since he signed after the 2014 World Cup.
David De Gea came within a dodgy fax machine of making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu back in the summer of 2015, with the Manchester United a target for Real Madrid ever since. But even when it came apparent that de Gea was unavailable, Real Madrid still did all they could to undermine Navas, eventually moving for Courtois, with some questioning whether the Belgian is even an upgrade on the current number one at the Santiago Bernabeu.
So what does the future now hold for Navas? Courtois says that he will not take his starting position for granted, but it’s hard to envisage that Real Madrid have spent £35 million on the Belgian not to put him in the lineup. So will Navas stay in the Spanish capital and fight for his place or would it be wise for him to move on and find a new club?
On the basis of Navas’ comments, it seems highly unlikely that he will be looking to do the latter. “Tell everyone loud and clear, I have as much enthusiasm for leaving Madrid as I do for dying,” he said after news of Courtois’ move to Real Madrid surfaced, all but skewering all speculation linking him with an exit from the European champions.
Courtois also seems wary of the challenge he will face in keeping Navas out of the team “When I arrived at Chelsea I had to replace [Petr] Cech and there was the same question,” he said. “I’ve still got a good relationship with him today. We goalkeepers are a separate group within the squad and I’m going to do all I can to make sure we all get on well.”
As many see it, Navas is simply too good to be sat on the bench, regardless of whether or not that is the bench at the Santiago Bernabeu. But the Costa Rican might be too proud to accept defeat and move on. Why should he?
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