Should Zinedine Zidane give Alphonse Areola a chance?

There was a symbolism to Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. These were two giants of the European game who have somewhat lost their way over the past year or so. Are there two more volatile footballing arenas than the Parc des Princes and Santiago Bernabeu right now?

There were subplots everywhere, but perhaps the most compelling one concerned the two mean in goals. Of course, until a few weeks ago Keylor Navas was a Real Madrid player. The Costa Rican won three Champions League titles during his time in the Spanish capital, but lost his starting place to Thibaut Courtois after the Belgian’s arrival last summer.

Navas was subsequently sold to PSG in the final few days of the summer transfer window and started against his former team on Wednesday night. The Costa Rican must have drawn great satisfaction from the clean sheet he kept and the emphatic 3-0 win he helped his team to.

On the flip side, Courtois looked shaky throughout. There were no glaring errors from the Belgian, but he might have done a little more to stop both of Angel di Maria’s two goals and looked unsure of himself from the first whistle until the last. This wasn’t an isolated case either. Courtois has been suspect for a number of months.

Courtois has now gone 15 games in all competitions without keeping a clean sheet. Real Madrid’s defence looked much steadier with Navas behind them, but that didn’t stop the Costa Rican from being cast aside. The suspicion is that Florentino Perez never saw Navas as befitting of a club of Real Madrid’s size and stature.

Alphonse Areola headed in the opposite direction to Navas in the summer window and so Zinedine Zidane does have another option between the sticks. Could Areola be given an early chance to prove himself at his new club? The poor form of Courtois might well be opening the door for the 26-year-old.

Despite being signed for over £30 million, Courtois has never really proved himself at Real Madrid. The Belgian certainly isn’t to blame for the issues his team have faced over the past year, but his influence at the back hasn’t done anything to help steady the ship. Zidane could be forgiven for looking at his new second choice goalkeeper and pondering if he might give him something Navas took when he left for France.

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Real Madrid are getting rid of the wrong goalkeeper

Most expected Real Madrid to spend big after the exit of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer. He was, after all, the club’s figurehead, not just in a footballing sense, but in a spiritual one too. Instead, they made just one first team addition, signing Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea to fill a position that didn’t need filled.

After all, they already had Keylor Navas, one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, as their number one goalkeeper. Now, it seems that Navas will be forced out of the Santiago Bernabeu with the Costa Rican expected to sign for Paris Saint-Germain before the close of the European transfer window.

In doing this, Real Madrid are getting rid of the wrong goalkeeper. Courtois has steadied himself after a difficult start to his Real Madrid career, but there’s still a lingering feeling that the Belgian hasn’t been the same for a number of seasons now. Not so long ago, it could be argue that he was one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Now, it’s much harder to make that point.

What’s more, Real Madrid showed at various times over the course of last season that they are more comfortable with Navas rather than Courtois between the sticks. There was a sense of discomfort between the Belgian and his defence whenever he played. That wasn’t so apparent in the matches Navas played.

Even when he was the undisputed first choice, Navas never quite got the credit he deserved. Some think that was down to the way he was signed. Navas was never a big money, big name signing. Instead, he was a shrewd addition from Levante after an impressive World Cup in 2014.

Some also make the point that Navas’ nationality as a Costa Rican made him somewhat unfashionable. This, of course, would be grossly unfair and unreasonable, but it’s an argument that may carry some weight. Costa Rica is not a renowned producer of top level football talent and so connotations are probably attached to Navas as a result of that.

Navas deserves much better than to be second choice at the Santiago Bernabeu. This is a guy who has won three Champions League titles during his time at Real Madrid as well as a La Liga title. He deserves much more than to be shuffled out the exit door. He deserves to still be Real Madrid’s first choice goalkeeper.

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Real Madrid’s clear out begins

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The news that Sergio Ramos has personally requested a transfer from Real Madrid should sound the alarm bells.

With a plethora of staff already being made available by the club, losing their talismanic captain just a year after Cristiano Ronaldo is a sure sign that Los Blancos are still on the way down.

Zinedine Zidane knew when he returned to the helm at the Santiago Bernabeu that this wouldn’t be an overnight job, but even he must’ve been surprised at just how far behind Barcelona his side have fallen. Continue reading

Keylor Navas set for Real Madrid exit

Keylor Navas

A multitude of reports in the Spanish press on Monday stated that Real Madrid had informed long-serving goalkeeper Keylor Navas that his time at the club was up. The 32-year-old’s final game at the club is set to be against Real Betis on Sunday, in an opportunity for him to say his goodbyes to the fans after five years in the Spanish capital.

The Costa Rican appeared certain to leave the European champions last summer whenever their €40m deal for Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea was completed. However, the Costa Rican number one stuck it out in the Spanish capital and continually referenced his contract at the club and even stating ‘he would rather die’ than leave the Bernabeu. Continue reading

Real Madrid to choose Keylor Navas or Thibaut Courtois

Keylor Navas

Real Madrid appear almost certain to sell one of their two star goalkeepers this summer. It was widely speculated last year that Keylor Navas was certain to leave the European champions whenever their €40m deal for Thibaut Courtois was completed.

However, the Costa Rican number one stuck it out in the Spanish capital and continually referenced his contract at the club and even stating ‘he would rather die’ than leave the Bernabeu. The dramatic statement certainly conveyed his point – this was a player who could only see a career going one way after leaving Madrid, down.

Navas was selected for the first two La Liga games of the campaign under Julen Lopetegui but not used in the league thereafter, when Courtois assumed the number one role. He featured just twice in five months under Santiago Solari, Lopetegui’s successor and it appeared his future at the club appeared to be short.

Yet just as a series of other established Madrid players – most notably Marcelo and Isco – Zinedine Zidane’s return to the club seemed to be a turning point. Navas has been selected as started in five La Liga matches across April and made a series of fine saves in each. Now, the future of both him and Courtois appears unclear.

“I would understand if a goalkeeper asked me to leave for the next season, it could happen,” Zidane said of the subject, as cited by El Espanol. “I said recently that I had the best three, both are there and there is another young man who has a very good future. Keylor and Thibaut are very good, I must choose just one of course and that is a complicated thing for me when I have to choose what is better for the team.”

Courtois appears to be the better all-round goalkeeper, and alongside the time and money the club invested into his signing a year ago, it would appear logical that he would be the number one going forwards. Yet Navas won three Champions League titles for the club and has proven not only very loyal but hugely important. He keeps producing the big moments and appears to have the lasting trust of Zidane.

Both are far too good to be the number two at any clubs. Could Paris Saint-Germain swoop for one of the shot-stoppers? Or may Manchester United look to replace David De Gea? Navas and Courtois would appear to be excellent alternatives who may be available.

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Zidane pushing for Real Madrid summer clear out


Zinedine Zidane will push ahead with plans for a squad overhaul this summer, as he pledges to challenge Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been clear in his desire to make changes at the club he led to three Champions League title between 2014 and 2017, and that means moving on some big names from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Club President Florentino Perez will fund certain transfer targets, but Zidane will have to clear out players to fund extra moves.

Continue reading

Zidane open to Courtios exit this summer


With attention turning to next season, Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has made it very clear that he expects to challenge for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been widely reported to be keen on bringing in a number of new faces to inject some life into his ageing side in the coming months.

However, despite club president Florentino Perez confirming he would be backing Zidane in the transfer market, he will have to make some space in his squad with some high profile departures – with goal keeper Thibaut Courtois the latest name to be linked with an exit.

Continue reading

Is Zidane the right choice for Real Madrid?

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No one could’ve predicted a scenario that saw Zinedine Zidane take over the Real Madrid hotseat just 10 months after he left it, but that’s precisely what’s happened in the aftermath of Los Blancos sacking their second coach this season, Santiago Solari.

The reasons could be many and though he’s not short of a euro or two, financial considerations will surely have played a huge part.

A promise from Florentino Perez that certain players will arrive or that Zidane will have a war chest of cash to go out and buy the very best is likely to be another. Continue reading

Goalkeeper crisis at Real Madrid ahead of Sevilla clash


Real Madrid are facing an injury crisis between the sticks as they prepare to host Sevilla tomorrow night, with both of their first choice La Liga net minders potentially sidelined through injury.

Santiago Solari’s side will be desperate to beat Los Rojiblancos, with Pablo Machin’s currently in third, and Real in fourth, separated only by goal difference.

However, the hosts have been hit with a succession of injuries in their squad, and fourth choice goal keeper Luca Zidane could be in line to step in for only his second ever senior appearance.

Continue reading

Courtois no replacement for Navas based on recent form at Real Madrid


All eyes are on Real Madrid who have imploded since the beginning of the season. Strange for a club who of course are current European champions and have won that competition for the past 3 years. This was another season that was supposed to go smoothly but it hasn’t been that way at all.

For no other reason than to bring in another star, Real Madrid president sanctioned the deal to bring Thibaut Courtois to the club from Chelsea in the summer. It was no secret that Madrid had been after the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper for the past couple of seasons. Chelsea understandably would not budge, which financially ended up working in Madrid’s favour as they got him for a cut price deal. Make no mistake Courtois is a top 10 goalkeeper in the world. However his start to the season where he has played 7 of the first 9 games has not suggested so.

This past weekend Real Madrid lost again in the league, this time at home to Levante and Courtois looked to blame for at least one of the goals. Whilst it is easy to point the finger at Courtois, one needs to be reminded that he has been one of the best and most consistent goal keepers of the past few years. He will get better at the club and grow stronger because the reality is that the whole team are not performing as they should and he is just one cog in the machine. But the attention has been focused on the keeper and boos could be heard from the infamous difficult fans towards him.

Of course they have a soft spot for Keylar Navas the man behind the sticks who led Madrid to so many European titles. To be fair Navas has done very little wrong at the club and his only wrongdoing seems to be that he is five years older than Courtois. One senses that there could be a rift between the two goalkeepers, where Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui has opted to drop Navas from the league games but play him in the Champions League.

This is a massive week for Real Madrid who should beat Viktoria Plzen at home in the Champions League, but it is a result they need to win after losing in Russia last time out. And then following that is the Barcelona match away from home. Which goalkeeper will be ruling the roost then? And you have to wonder if Courtois felt happier in the confines of Stamford Bridge rather than Santiago Bernabeu, where the circus seems to be just beginning.