(Photo credit: REUTERS/KAI PFAFFENBACH)
Keylor Navas was never meant to be number one at Real Madrid. Not when he signed for €10m in the aftermath of the 2014 World Cup.
He was second fiddle to Iker Casillas and when the Spaniard ended his 17-year stint in Madrid’s first-team squad the following summer, few believed the former Levante goalkeeper would be his long-term replacement.
The infamous fax-machine
The Costa Rican was the oft-forgotten fall guy in the breakdown of David De Gea’s proposed move to the Spanish capital in August 2015.
A late fax machine message from Los Blancos has now become infamous. De Gea had already signed all the details to join Madrid with Navas agreeing full terms with United. When he was told the deal had broken down, he was left in tears.
Having originally moved to Spain in 2010 when he joined Albacete, Navas was now facing the prospect of spending a season at a club whom he knew did not want him as their first choice. Under the glare of the media and enhanced spotlight which Madrid occupy, it would potentially be the toughest twelve months of his career.
As it turned out, Navas formed an integral part of successive Champions League winning campaigns, he could yet make it three in a row this month, alongside proving instrumental in last season’s reclaiming of the Spanish top-flight.
He has earned the right to be Real's keeper
(Photo credit: REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE)
Madrid have not gone back with attempts to sign De Gea in what is a strong show of trust in the Costa Rican, who has now won nine medals since arriving at the Bernabeu.
He has made 127 first-team appearances since the departure of Casillas to Porto and has grown into one of the most accomplished goalkeepers in world football.
Maybe he is not at the level of De Gea, nor even that of Jan Oblak across town at Atletico. But he has proven himself to be more than capable of playing a leading role in landing major titles regularly and crucially, has shown a strong mentality and focus which can only be described as admirable. He has grown into the number one shirt which he inherited from the previous Madrid captain.
The main attribute of the goalkeeper are his cat-like reflexes and ability to stop efforts from point-blank range, as shown in his lightning-quick reaction in Tuesday’s draw with Bayern Munich from a deflected effort, clawing the ball out as it looked like it had flown into the bottom corner.
Many point to his performance in the second leg as meriting a Man of the Match crown (despite Karim Benzema’s two goals) which is even more impressive considering his error for Joshua Kimmich’s opener in the first leg.
(Photo credit: MICHAEL DALDER/REUTERS)
Navas had come in for heavy criticism after the mistake in Munich as he allowed the shot to fly past him as he anticipated a cross.
It followed on from the high-profile blunder in the home clash with Juventus, where he dropped the ball at the feet of Blaise Matuidi to win. Many pundits, who almost certainly are not regular La Liga watchers, argued he cracked under the pressure and he was not good enough for Madrid.
Yet Zinedine Zidane clearly does not agree and has repeatedly backed the shot-stopper in the press, which have been reflected in the trend of steadily improving performances over the course of the past three years.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos are the main leaders of Madrid’s side, but the truth is their recent dominance in Europe would not have been possible without leadership and character throughout the team, and Navas possesses those qualities in abundance.
Do you think Keylor Navas should be Real Mardid's number one next season? Let us know in the comments section below!