For a long time, it seemed to be in David De Gea’s destiny that he would one day be presented to the Santiago Bernabeu as a Real Madrid goalkeeper. Were it not for a faulty fax machine, the Manchester United shot-stopper would have signed for the Spanish giants in the summer of 2015.
In the end, though, Real Madrid signed another former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper, with Thibaut Courtois joining Los Blancos two summers ago. At the time, many saw the Belgian’s addition as unnecessary. Keylor Navas was widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the game. What’s more, the Costa Rican was a favourite with the club’s fans.
Initially, Courtois struggled. The pressure of playing for Real Madrid, in front of one of the most demanding fanbases in world football, appeared to get to him, turning in a number of less-than-convincing performances. Now, though, Courtois has grown into his role. He has become the ‘Galactico’ goalkeeper Real Madrid wanted for a number of years.
Real Madrid’s defence has been key to their challenge at the top of the Spanish Liga table this season and Courtois has more than played his role in that. In the early days, the likes of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane looked unsettled with the Belgian behind them. They were more comfortable with Navas as their goalkeeper.
The relationship between Real Madrid’s number one and the centre backs in front of him has improved a lot since then, though. Ramos and Varane are now the strongest defensive pairing in the Spanish game, but without a solid goalkeeper like Courtois behind them they wouldn’t be so formidable.
“I’m happy with him and I’m sure he’s happy with the game he put in,” Zidane said about Courtois after a particularly impressive performance from the Belgian earlier in the season. “He’s our goalkeeper, we’re happy with him. We have to keep this up, keeping cleans sheets… He’s my keeper, for me he’s the best, no doubt about it.”
La Liga is awash with world class goalkeepers at the moment. Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen are among the very best in the game right now. Some might even rank them as number one and number two. Courtois, however, has joined that sort of company this summer with his performances for Real Madrid.
How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.