Since 2002, Real Madrid have always made great signings that came from a solid performance in the World Cup. Ronaldo, Cannavaro, Özil and James are just some of those names. This year they signed the best midfielder, the top goalscorer and now one of the tournament’s best goalkeepers. Not since Bodo Illgner’s arrival in 1996 have we seen a goalkeeper signing that could threaten to take the spot in the starting XI.
Keylor Navas, the Costa Rican hero, has arrived at Madrid and has been unveiled with the number 13 today at the Santiago Bernabéu. After paying 10 million euros ($13.3M,) the European champions have added a player that is a complete professional and has the humility to make great things without being controversial. Now, Carlo Ancelotti has a problem since he has three top-level goalkeepers, which means that at the very least, one of them needs to find playtime elsewhere.
Upwards of a thousand fans arrived at Madrid’s stadium to welcome the 27-year old. While not a marketing machine like James, Los Blancos have definitely earned the support from the Central American country. Navas hasn’t signed for the club to be a star, he just comes to work hard and hopefully play as much as he can. Very religious and family-oriented, Keylor is a quiet man who shouldn’t have any problems fitting in with his teammates. However, it’s good to point out that his arrival could kickstart a revolution in the goalkeeper department. This is not his intention, but having three great players in that position is counterproductive, despite the fact that the club is fighting for six titles.
The goalkeeper position has always been a very delicate one for Madrid and also a very Spanish one. Navas will barely be the sixth foreign goalie to arrive to Real in all of their history. José Mourinho started a revolution in his last season at La Casa Blanca, a revolution that still lived on last season.
Mou signed Diego López after Iker Casillas suffered an injury, and even after his recovery, he decided to keep López in the starting role. This decision caused a lot of controversy, not only in the press, but among the fans and in the dressing room. Mourinho left and a quieter man like Ancelotti arrived. Nevertheless, Carlo decided to establish a rotation system that wasn’t very well received. López played almost all (36 out of 38) matches in La Liga and Casillas took Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League. If the debate wasn’t controversial enough, both titles that Madrid won came from the tournaments that Casillas played at.
This summer and during preseason, there has been a lot of speculation about both of them leaving. Still, both of them had a chance to play in friendly matches. Ancelotti announced that Casillas would start the European Supercup, and not long after that, Iker had a horrible match against Manchester United. Now, a few days later, Navas has arrived and the debate will go on until the end of the transfer market. López and Casillas are 32 and 33 years old respectively, which means that reflexes and form will inevitably decline. It’s harsh and rude to kick one of them out after what they’ve done for the club, but that’s the way life is, it’s a cycle and sooner or later new blood will arrive.
The press keeps adding fuel to the fire and some are standing by Casillas and some with López. The same is happening with the fans, but now with Navas, it seems that everyone sees him as the guy to settle this and start a new era. Nevertheless, we must consider how the Costa Rican will take the pressure of playing for one of the world’s best. Making 20 saves in a game at Levante is great and it motivates you, but making 20 saves and failing once at Madrid could cost you a fortune. Goalies are always being watched and judged every week, some can take the pressure and some can’t. Either way, Los Blancos have signed a great player and it’s up to the club and the coach to decide what’s best for the team. We could see a few surprises before August 31st, but this isn’t Navas’ fault.