What do you have to do to prove to your superiors that you’re worthy of the job?
In footballing terms, helping your team win an unprecedented three straight Champions League trophies must be up there. Throw in one LaLiga title, two Club World Cup triumphs, two European Super Cup victories and one Spanish Super Cup and you’re close to being untouchable.
Not if you’re Keylor Navas and not if you’re at Real Madrid.
The Costa Rican looks set to be replaced by Belgian stopper Thibaut Courtois as Madrid’s number one this season and although it seems harsh on the former Levante man, the call is the right one by Blancos’ chief executive Jose Angel Sanchez.
Courtois, who helped Belgian to third place in this summer’s World Cup, is set to be unveiled as the latest goalkeeping arrival at the Santiago Bernabéu in a matter of days or weeks for a fee of around €35 million. Courtois only has one year left on his Chelsea contract and the London club, who won’t feature in this season’s Champions League, and ready to cash in. The only thing slowing down the move is Chelsea looking for their replacement.
Some are keen to see Navas stay as Madrid’s first-choice but Courtois’ arrival in the Spanish capital will only improve Madrid as a team defensively.
Navas is a great shot-stopper, one of the World’s best, but he seemingly struggles with the pressure that comes with playing for Real Madrid. Individual errors have shone the spotlight on him in the past and that side of his game also rubs off on the confidence levels of the back four. Courtois will offer a much more robust and error-free confidence for his defence.
The Belgian will also offer an extra weapon in cleaning up from set-pieces. As a much taller goalkeeper, Courtois will be able to pluck out danger from a set-piece ball, whereas Navas relied on his albeit-capable defenders to clear the danger – or punch the ball.
That leadership at the back should also be reproduced in his handling of dishing out instructions to defenders. The Chelsea man will be much more audible in giving his teammates instructions from the back and he already knows Spanish thanks to meeting his ex-wife in Madrid during his time on-loan at Atletico Madrid, and has two children living in the Spanish capital.
Age is a factor, too. While Navas is 31, 26-year-old Courtois still has his best years ahead of him – he could likely be Madrid’s man in-between the sticks for the next decade.
Slap in the price tag, a relatively cheap €35 million owing to an expiring contract, and Madrid should have themselves one of the buys of the summer on the way. The only curiosity is what will happen to Navas, such a loyal servant since his arrival.