Real Madrid are the greatest football time in the history of the game. Their success in Europe’s major competition have set them apart from any other team throughout the existence of football. From the days of the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, to the ‘Galacticos’, to their current domination which is heavily influenced by Cristiano Ronaldo they have always been at the forefront of the sport. They are never far away from winning any competition they enter. One weakness in the current squad, or perhaps better put as the weakest area, would be the goalkeeper. Rumours seem to whip up every summer around current number 1 Keylor Navas being replaced. Surely he cannot be that bad if Madrid have won the last two Champions Leagues with him in goal?
What is the issue?
Navas joined Real Madrid in 2014 after impressing at the World Cup in the summer. His national side, Costa Rica, were not fancied to do anything in the competition but they managed to get out their group which consisted of Uruguay, Italy and England. An opening game win against Uruguay shocked the world and if that was not enough they followed it up with a win against Italy. A 0-0 draw was enough to see them through against England and Navas conceded only 1 goal in the group.
Then came Navas’ finest hour. Costa Rica came up against Greece in the round of 16. Navas pulled off some spectacular saves and was awarded the man of the match award after Costa Rica went through via a penalty shoot out.
Madrid activated his buyout clause of €10 million for the Levante keeper and the rest is history. He arrived at the Bernabeu to challenge then first choice and long term Madrid star Iker Casillas. Playing only 11 times in all competitions in his first year at Madrid must have been frustrating for the Costa Rica goalkeeper coming to the club with so much momentum.
It started looking up for Navas when Casillas left for Porto the following summer. Perhaps the club were impressed with Navas and the decision to let Casillas go was made easier. The season brought a Champions League victory against city rivals Atletico Madrid. Navas played 45 times for ‘Los Blancos’ in the 2015/16 season. Last season was even better for Madrid and boss Zinedine Zidane. They were able to add the La Liga title as well as retaining the Champions League.
But still for whatever reason Navas is not afforded the luxury of being safe at the Spanish club. Rumours of another goalkeeper arriving at the Bernabeu are always in the news.
De Gea links
For what seems like forever Manchester United’s star player David De Gea has been linked with a move to Madrid. For Spanish players who play for the national side both Madrid and Barcelona represent a huge pull. Mainly because the high majority of the Spanish camp play for one of the two sides. De Gea is no different, even though he represented Atletico, the move to Madrid seemed destined to happen.
Would De Gea improve the already formidable Real team? No doubt at all. He would. He would improve any side in the world as he is and for sometime has been one of if not the best goalkeeper in world football. That is an attraction for Madrid in itself. They want to get the best player in every position and given that De Gea is debatably the best in the world and still has many years ahead of him he would be their first choice.
With the Spanish number 1 looking set to sign another new contract with Manchester United and Jose Mourinho at the the helm it looks unlikely that Real Madrid will be able to force him away from Old Trafford any time soon.
The latest solution – Kepa
Now Athletic Bilbao keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is fancied by Real Madrid and their hierarchy. He certainly fits the bill for what is expected of a Madrid keeper. Spanish, check. Young, check. Talented, check. Could he be the potential long term replacement for Casillas?
Representing Spain at every level up to the under 21’s he clearly has the pedigree. It will only be a matter of time before he gets his chance at senior level to some extent, it all depends on him reaching the standard De Gea is at. He has been with Bilbao since he was a youth player but he has enjoyed successful loan spells at Ponferradina and Real Vallodolid. Last season he played 23 teams for his side and performed well.
Could he come in an take over senior goalkeeping duties straight away? It would be a risk for Madrid, especially considering their rocky start to the season. It would have to be a deputy status for him at this time. Which would fit well with Madrid at the moment as Navas could continue as Kepa learns and comes to terms with the pressure of being a Madrid player.
Kepa could become a long term presence in the Madrid side and maybe one day he will be thought of in the same class as Casillas.
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