Ever since Iker Casillas left Real Madrid, the goalkeeping position of ‘Los Blancos’ has been very open. The likes of Diego Lopez, Kiko Casilla have all tried their best. But it’s the Costa Rican Keylor Navas who seemed to have thrived. Yes, seemed and not seems.
Because Casillas had been the undisputed starter for Spain until the very twilight of his career. So, it’s only fitting that Real would want their successor, who is guarding the ‘La Furia Roja’ goal as their torchbearer as well. The man in context is none other than David De Gea.
For the best part of the last four years, Real Madrid and Manchester United have locked horns many times for the Spanish keeper. But from the almost hilarious ‘Fax Machine Blunder’ to not actually being able to sign him, Real have ultimately failed in their pursuit of Casillas’ heir. Instead, the man brought from Levante for a mere ten million euros has been the keeper since Casillas’ departure.
Navas has been an absolutely magnificent servant for Real. He was instrumental in their hat-trick Champions League title wins. Who can forget his heroics at the Bernabeu against Bayern last season?
But, there was a sense of distrust on Navas from the Bernabeu faithful. This may have been triggered since Real failed to acquire De Gea’s services. The De Gea rumours had almost become like bad cold. They just wouldn’t go away.
Massive credit has to go to Navas. Despite all of what’s been going around outside the pitch, he kept a cool head and performed to his fullest. And the results are there. He’s won the League. He’s won European and Spanish Supercups, Club World Cups and what not. He’s even made it to the Champions League squad of the season multiple times. These just goes to show exactly how immense the Costa Rican has been for Real.
But all of these incredible achievements, especially given what’s been going around in the press, the lack of trust on Navas remained. After coming to terms that De Gea won’t be coming to Real, President Florentino Perez turned his attention to the Belgian shot stopper Thibaut Courtois who was the best goalkeeper in the recently finished World Cup. Real once again gave into their ‘tradition’ of signing the best players from the World Cup. Navas’ achievements stood no chance in front of it. Now, Real are left with two of the world’s top goalkeepers and a coach who still doesn’t know who to pick as his undisputed starter.
— RMadridHome (@RMadridHome_) August 18, 2018
The goalkeeping abundance is actually overflowing in Real. Besides Courtois, they’ve signed young Ukrainian Andriy Lunin. Kiko Casilla is still there. And so is Luca Zidane. As many as five goalkeepers in a squad and none of them can be undermined. But let’s keep things realistic, it’s going to be Navas or Courtois for most, if not all, of the upcoming season.
Both goalkeepers are well known in Europe. On one hand, we have Navas. Ever since the 2014 World Cup. he’s gone from strength to strength. Sure there were a few momentary lapses, but Navas has been vital for the Whites’ dominance in Europe. His reflexes are a sight to behold. The only weakness that one might point out is his aerial ability. But for some reason, he’s always lacked the spotlight. Not that he wants it, but Navas has never been in contention of the best goalkeepers debate. And even after these consistencies, not a lot of clubs are chasing him despite Real making it clear they wouldn’t stand in Navas’ way if he wanted to leave. But Navas has the Madridismo flowing in his veins ever since he joined Real. In a recent interview, he was asked whether he’d contemplate leaving now that Courtois is here. “I want to leave Real as much as I want to die”, said a very proud and determined Navas. So, the intentions are clear: Courtois or no Courtois, Navas will fight for his place until death and he has no plans of leaving.
— Los (@Villa_Wolves31) August 12, 2018
On another hand, we have Courtois. The gigantic Belgian has been a well known face in Europe ever since his loan move to Atletico Madrid from Chelsea. Courtois guarded the Atletico goal in the 2013-14 season when they lost the Champions League final to his present club, Real. His goalkeeping prowess need no introduction. With the obvious height advantage, Courtois’ reflexes are as perfect as it gets. The height also helps him command his D-box.
Since his Atletico days to Chelsea, Courtois has been immense for both of his clubs. His magnificent consistency has always been an area of much appreciation and in the World Cup, he showed just how good he can be. That one particular save from Neymar where he flew in the air to tip a certain goal over the bar was magnificent to say the least. Despite his Atletico roots, Courtois was always a Real Madrid fan. One of his early childhood days’ pictures of him wearing a Real Madrid top went viral. And in his official unveiling for the Whites, he himself confessed his Madridista roots. “I was a rival back then. Now I’m one of you”, said an elated Courtois.
⏤ courtois crazy save against brazil (shot by neymar) pic.twitter.com/EZiuP6O1cl
— sic (@realftmadrid) August 14, 2018
All in all, the selection headache these two magnificent keepers will give Real coach Julen Lopetegui will actually be good for the club. Both goalkeepers know that they’re one mistake away from being on the receiving end of the media and the fans’ backlash. They also know that mistake might very well take away the starter role that one of them will get in between the sticks for Real.
It’s still early days in the season. Even Lopetegui doesn’t know what will happen. And there’s also not much difference between the two to clearly determine that one is better than the other. Therefore, this goalkeeping dilemma will serve Real right. Now it’s up to Lopetegui to choose his ‘Number One’.