x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Keylor Navas form forces Thibaut Courtois to wait patiently on the Real Madrid bench

Costa Rica goalkeeper has started all games this season as Belgium's No 1 waits for his chance having moved from Chelsea

Thibaut Courtois, right, has moved to Real Madrid, but Keylor Navas has retained No 1 duties so far. EPA
Thibaut Courtois, right, has moved to Real Madrid, but Keylor Navas has retained No 1 duties so far. EPA

Real Madrid may have finally ended their three-year pursuit for a new goalkeeper after signing Thibaut Courtois but the former Chelsea player is still waiting for his chance at the European champions.

That is due to the continued form of Keylor Navas, who again excelled between the sticks for Madrid in their 4-1 Primera Liga win at Girona on Sunday.

Every summer since 2015 Madrid has tried to sign a new goalkeeper to be their regular No 1, but Navas has doggedly held on to the position, helping the club to three consecutive Uefa Champions League titles.

_____________

Read more:

From Burnley to Real Madrid: the modern trend of increased competition among goalkeepers

Zinedine Zidane and five other candidates to replace Jose Mourinho at Man United

Spain players 'unanimously against' plans to play La Liga games in United States

_____________

The Costa Rican's time finally appeared to be up when Courtois forced through a move to the Spanish capital from Chelsea, but thus far new manager Julen Lopetegui has kept his faith in Navas.

He was in goal for the Uefa Super Cup game against Atletico Madrid on August 15 when Courtois was not in the squad, having only completed his move from Chelsea a few days before.

Despite Madrid conceding four goals in a 4-2 defeat, Navas kept his place for the opening game of the Primera Liga season against Getafe, which Madrid won 2-0.

Then at Girona, Navas put in a superb display to ensure Madrid moved to the top of the table. He raced off his line at lightning speed to deny Portu when the Girona winger was sent through on goal, something Courtois might not have been able to do given his size.

Navas also made another fine save to prevent Borja Garcia, who netted Girona’s opener, from adding a second.

Any issues over Courtois' fitness have been cleared up, with the player saying he was "ready for the game" on his Instagram account.

Navas's performance raised questions about when Courtois would get his chance as on this form it will be difficult for Lopetegui to drop his current No 1.

"It's not a situation that's easy to understand but it's simple enough to explain," Lopetegui told reporters. "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."

This is the first time Courtois has been on the bench for the first two league matches of a season since he was 17 at Genk in 2009.

With the Champions League and Copa del Rey starting in September and October, there will be opportunities for Courtois to feature. However for now, Navas's spot is his to lose.