Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Courtois' arrival sparks Real Madrid GK fight

Published:Friday | August 10, 2018 | 12:00 AM
New Real Madrid player Thibaut Courtois poses for the media during his official presentation for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, yesterday, after joining the club from Chelsea.
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MADRID (AP):

Real Madrid will start the season with something they haven't had in years: Competition over who will start in goal.

Thibaut Courtois was introduced by Madrid yesterday, setting up a rivalry with Keylor Navas, the Spanish team's goalkeeper when they won the last three Champions League titles.

Despite often being criticised, Navas hasn't had to seriously compete for the starting position in goal since taking over from club idol Iker Casillas, who was the team's main 'keeper for more than a decade, until leaving for Porto in 2015.

The last time the position was competitive came after Casillas got injured in 2013 and lost his position to Diego Lopez, who remained as the starter for some time after Casillas recovered.

The 26-year-old Courtois arrived from Chelsea touted as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, finishing third with Belgium at the World Cup, where he won the Golden Glove award as the tournament's best goalkeeper.

But Courtois isn't getting overconfident.

 

No guarantees

 

"Nobody has given me any guarantees about being the starter," Courtois said at his presentation. "It would be a mistake for the club to do that. I'll have to show I deserve to be the starter during the training sessions. That's how it should be. I was never given guarantees in any of the clubs where I played. I arrived at Chelsea when (Petr) Cech was there and I ended (up) playing. I arrive to give my best, then the coach will decide who will be the starter."

Navas has succeeded with Madrid, but the club has been linked with a new goal-keeper in nearly every transfer window since he became the first choice in 2015.

Madrid tried to sign David De Gea from Manchester United after Casillas left but missed a deadline, and the deal didn't go through. Last season, the club reportedly also tried to sign Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, the Spain international who has joined Chelsea as Courtois' replacement. Madrid was also linked to Brazil goalkeeper Alisson, who ended up transferring from Roma to Liverpool.

According to Spanish media, Navas said he is not worried about Courtois' arrival, while the Belgian is welcoming the competition.

"I've met Keylor, we've had a little chat," Courtois said. "From what people have told me, he's a really great guy, and from a professional point of view, I consider him a fantastic goalkeeper as well. I come in with absolute respect and to compete at the top level."

Coach Julen Lopetegui, making his debut with Madrid this season, will make his first decision about the starting goalkeeper when Madrid faces Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.