Paris Saint-Germain scooped up the Costa Rica number one, Keylor Navas, from Real Madrid for €15m plus Alphonse Areola on loan on transfer deadline day. The 32-year old was signed in 2014 after some really impressive showings at the World Cup that year and went on to be an integral part of the Madrid side that won three consecutive Champions League titles, one La Liga title, one Spanish super cup, and two UEFA Super Cups.
He was ostracised by Zinedine Zidane in the 2018/19 season when the younger Thibaut Courtois was brought in from Chelsea for €35m. Courtois came in on the back of an impressive World Cup campaign in 2018 in which the Belgian won the Golden Glove making a tournament-high 27 saves and keeping three clean sheets.
He has since struggled to replicate that form however and keeps setting and breaking unwanted club and personal records whenever he plays in goal for the club. He has conceded at least a goal for 11 league games running, 16 goals in total, his longest ever league run without a clean sheet.
Courtois at Chelsea was a force to be reckoned with between the sticks. He won the Premier League’s Golden Glove in 2016/17 and was influential in the two title wins while with the club. Meanwhile, he has conceded 40 goals in 30 La Liga appearances to date for Madrid (1.37 per match), kept only eight clean sheets and has a save percentage of 65, compared to the 70% and 72% save success rates he enjoyed while at Chelsea and Atletico respectively.
Keylor, on the other hand, conceded eight goals in the 10 matches he played in La Liga last season and kept four cleans sheets, and in 104 total league games for Madrid, conceded 94 goals and kept 32 clean sheets. His save percentage also was pretty impressive, saving 74% of all the shots he faced in between the sticks for Madrid.
Courtois’ goalkeeping attributes as seen from the infographic are a testament to how good he is and can be, and why he was able to relegate Keylor to the background. However, Keylor’s anticipation is way better than Courtois’ and that rating doesn’t do as much justice to how fast his reflexes are, if you factor how many double saves he makes on average, one-on-one situations he has faced, and blind saves he makes on average. Courtois pips him in ball distribution primarily because of his tall frame, as he can use his long hands to devastating effect. However, Keylor is a better player than Courtois with the ball at his feet.
Also, Madrid and Zidane allowing a leader like Keylor leave to a Champions League rival is bad business. With Keylor at the back, Madrid’s defence was always organized as he could read the game well and bark instructions to his defenders about where they need to be. Still, he faced an insane amount of shots in his time with Madrid – in 2017 alone, he faced the most shots of any goalkeeper in the top five leagues, saving 80% of them. He will take that quality to PSG, a club that lacks enough leading figures on the pitch.
Even though Courtois is a World Cup Golden glove holder, there are a lot of things he was not ready for when he joined Madrid and Keylor would have been an invaluable source of knowledge for the Belgian.
Courtois believes he is now the undisputed number one in Madrid according to a recent interview, but Areola is not a goalkeeper who is content with being backup and has also made his intentions clear about ginning for the number one position.
With fans running out of patience due to the myriad of errors he commits per match, the pressure is on Zidane to get his prized asset functioning at the highest level again. An average goalkeeper (which Courtois is turning out to be) makes even the best teams average.