Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Did Madrid sell the wrong man?

Zinedine Zidane's choice of number one this season could come back to haunt him when his side head to Paris on Wednesday

After five years at Real Madrid, Keylor Navas was unceremoniously sent packing to Paris Saint-Germain over the summer as Zinedine Zidane threw his full support behind Thibaut Courtois between the sticks. 

With one eye clearly on the future, Madrid turned a blind eye to the past and present form of both goalkeepers - a reality that may be particularly hard to ignore when PSG host Real in their Champions League group opener on Wednesday. 

Though given the vote of confidence by Zidane, Courtois has so far failed to reward his manager with the Belgian currently on his longest ever league run without a clean sheet after conceding in his 12th straight La Liga game in a 3-2 win against Levante. 

Despite making a crucial stop late in that match, the 27-year-old faced just three shots throughout the 90 minutes yet conceded twice.

On the same night Courtois continued his unconvincing form in goal, Navas made his debut for PSG in a narrow 1-0 win over Strasbourg with the Costa Rican quickly proving his worth.

Midway through the first half, the 32-year-old made an excellent diving save low to his left which allowed Neymar to pop up in injury-time and score a spectacular winner . 

While the Brazilian would inevitably grab the headlines, it was Navas' super save that gave his new team-mate the chance to shine - something the keeper regularly did for Real without getting the full credit he deserved.  

Incidentally, Navas' time in Real began in rather disrespectful fashion when, just a year after arriving, he was nearly used as a makeweight in a deal for Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea in August 2015.

Putting that transfer drama behind him, he happily inherited Iker Casillas' number one shirt and showed he was a worthy wearer of it. 

Already familiar with La Liga thanks to his previous stint with Levante, Navas quickly impressed domestically but would truly stand out in the Champions League as he played a pivotal part in continuing Real's continental dominance. 


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