De Gea rumours overshadow Navas' role in Madrid title chase

Real Madrid keeper has had a few error-prone displays but was excellent against Sevilla

Andy West
by Andy West
17th May 2017

article:17th May 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo might have grabbed the headlines with two more goals, with secondary mentions for Nacho after his cheeky quickly-taken free-kick, but Real Madrid’s victory over Sevilla on Sunday night also owed a lot to one of the team’s unsung heroes.

The game was nowhere near as comfortable for Los Blancos as the eventual 4-1 scoreline suggests, with Sevilla enjoying the better of the first hour and creating several clear chances to add more goals than Stevan Jovetic’s strike just after the break.

One of the reasons they didn’t was ill fortune, with the always dangerous Jovetic seeing two excellent first-half strikes bounce to safety off the woodwork.

Another, though, was Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who made some outstanding saves in the opening half, especially when he clawed away a close-range strike from the luckless Jovetic just before the break.

It was by no means the first time that Navas has come to his team’s rescue, with their tendency to lose balance often leaving the Costa Rican goalkeeper over-exposed and far busier than he would like.

More often than not he has come through with flying colours, but that still hasn’t been enough to prevent speculation that he will be replaced by David De Gea this summer.

It’s not the first time Navas has been in this position, of course. In the summer of 2015 he got as far as Madrid airport, waiting to board a flight to Manchester after the clubs agreed a swap deal for the two goalkeepers, before the transfer (to his great relief) broke down when the paperwork wasn’t completed in time.

Even though two full seasons have passed, Navas has never quite been able to escape the suspicion that he is merely a glorified long-term understudy, keeping De Gea’s gloves warm until his much anticipated move to the Bernabeu finally comes off.

It’s been a difficult situation for the ex-Levante man but Navas has coped extremely well, generally producing solid performances and quickly atoning for the inevitable errors which affect any goalkeeper.

On Sunday night, he once again demonstrated his value, and as Madrid enter their final three games of the season hoping to clinch a domestic and European double, maybe he should receive more recognition – before he leaves.