It took former Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois 26 years, including a three-year stay at one his current club’s biggest rivals, Atlético Madrid, not to mention countless interviews and hints and excuses to finally complete his semi-secret dream move to Real Madrid this summer.
As soon as that was done, he didn’t so much burn, as he incinerated all his bridges. But despite all the badge-kissing and Eden Hazard-luring and all the other things he has done to make sure we didn’t miss him one bit, things have not really gone in the way he (probably) expected in the Spanish capital.
Video | 7 years ago Courtois at the age of 19 while moving to Atletico on loan, Real Madrid flag on his bedroom wall. pic.twitter.com/4j5zW8P6xi— Real Madrid Info (@RMadridInfo) August 10, 2018
The man he was supposed to topple from the No.1 goalkeeper spot, Keylor Navas, is still holding his place, and strongly so. The Costa Rica international who made his name at the 2014 World Cup, has started all three games so far this season (2 in La Liga and the UEFA Super Cup), and had a very good outing over the weekend in the 4-1 win against Girona. A classic case of raising your game in light of new competition?
Here is what our friends at Managing Madrid, SB Nation’s Real Madrid blog, had to say about Navas’ performance versus
Manchester City B the White and Reds:
Keylor Navas—8.5: Sensational— made some impressive acrobatic saves, composed with the ball at his feet, and delivered a one armed slinged pass to Isco who slotted Bale in for a goal. There is no sitting Keylor when he plays like this, time will tell if he can keep it going for the whole of the season.
To be fair, they also questioned why new boss Julen Lopetegui did not grant £35 million signing Courtois a chance to impress in what should have been a relatively easy game ... although it turned out to be anything but, at least in the first-half, when Real fell behind.
The Spanish media did the same, and Lopetegui tried to explain the situation as best as he could.
“It’s not a situation that’s easy to understand, but it’s simple enough to explain. I’ve got some really good options in goal and there are no problems in that area. We’ll decide what’s best for each game.
“Keylor got the nod today and did very well. There’s great competition and that makes us stronger in the goalkeeping department. I’ve got some thoughts in my mind, but I’m not going to share them.
“Over the course of the season, I’ll look for solutions to solve the next immediate challenge.”
-Julen Lopetegui; source: Metro
Looks like Thibaut will not be given the free ticket to the starting position like he was at Chelsea back in 2014, with Petr Čech getting the short shrift. Navas may not be a “Galactico” in the way Casillas was, but he’s won the Champions League three times and that’s no accident. Despite Lopetegui’s words, Navas seems fully entrenched as the first-choice goalkeeper at the moment.
Awwww, so sorry, Thibaut. (NOT!)
(P.S.: Will be interesting to see how long Courtois can hide his frustrations on the bench. He’s never been too good at hiding his emotions or his opinions...)