Keylor Navas set to leave Real Madrid as Thibaut Courtois gets starting spot

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A healthy competition, insists Thibaut Courtois

Real Madrid have told Keylor Navas that Thibaut Courtois will be the first-choice keeper next season, according to Goal.

Over the years, Navas has established himself as Zinedine Zidane’s favourite. He even regained his role as a starter when the Frenchman returned to the club two months ago.

Courtois was signed last summer because of a reduced transfer fee which was a result of the custodian entering the last season of his contract with Chelsea.

Although it looked like Zidane’s return would work in Navas’ favour and help extend his stay at the club, Madrid have decided to go with the original plan of fielding Courtois between the sticks as a long-term first-choice keeper.

The Costa Rican at Madrid has won three Champions Leagues, one La Liga title, three European Super Cups, four Club World Cups and one Spanish Super Cup.

After five trophy-laden seasons with Los Blancos, Navas will take his position between the sticks for one final time against Real Betis next week.

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See Zinedine Zidane lay out bleak Real Madrid future for Gareth Bale

David Cooper 13/05/2019
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Bale did not feature in Real's matchday squad for the Villareal clash.

Zinedine Zidane spoke frankly after Real Madrid hopes of finishing second in La Liga ended after their 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad.

Head coach Zidane left Gareth Bale out of his squad for the trip to San Sebastian and after the game he made it clear that the forward’s future at the club is in serious doubt.

“It is very clear what I have done this weekend (dropping Bale),” he said. “We have another game next week and we will see next year.”









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Disastrous defending a big concern for Real Madrid in 3-1 defeat but young guns offer hope

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Real Madrid seem destined to end a disappointing season with a whimper as a 3-1 defeat at Real Sociedad was their 11th of this La Liga campaign.

Zinedine Zidane once again left Gareth Bale out of the matchday squad, starting with bright young talent Brahim Diaz instead while Vinicius Junior made an appearance off the bench.

Brahim impressed with a fine solo effort in the sixth minute to give the away side the lead but Sociedad responded strongly and were rewarded for their efforts.

A superb team goal was rounded off when Willian Jose laid the ball off for Mikel Merino to steer home the equaliser in the 26th minute.

Jesus Vallejo reduced his side to ten men when his hand ball on the line conceded a penalty and earned him a red card. However, Thibaut Courtois was able to deny Willian from the spot.

The second half though saw the hosts take the lead through Joseba Zaldua before Ander Barrenetxea’s towering header added a third.

EXCITING YOUNG OPTIONS

Every time he’s been afforded an opportunity, Brahim has impressed. His technical ability is unparalleled, even in a team like Madrid brimming with some truly special talents, while there’s an air of confidence in his game that only the best players can boast of.

It took the youngster a little over five minutes at the Anoeta to remind everyone of his brilliance. At the end of a run that was equal parts dazzling and determined, his clever finish under the Sociedad keeper Geronimo Rulli was indicative of his footballing intellect.

But the Spaniard isn’t the first teenager to wow Madridistas this season. Vinicius Junior – who returned from injury against Villarreal last week – made another cameo appearance on Sunday. He was the best thing to come out of Madrid’s campaign earlier on. The 18-year-old won over the Los Blancos support with his mesmeric dribbling and searing pace but unlike Brahim, he didn’t always boast the necessary composure.

That said, his talent should be at the forefront come next season, adding to the options Zidane will have at his disposal. Joining Brahim and Vinicius could be Marco Asensio. The 23-year-old Spaniard has endured a season to forget but remains a favourite of Zidane’s and should he come back strongly after the summer, he’ll be in line for more opportunities.

Meanwhile, Rodrygo is also set to join the first team from Santos.

Brahim Diaz

BALE OUT

Speaking of Zidane’s options next season, Bale is unlikely to feature among them. The returning Madrid boss named the Welshman in the starting XI for his first match back at the helm. In fact, the former Tottenham star was named in five of Zidane’s first eight matches into his second spell.

However, it seems as if the Frenchman was only making a point. It’s no secret that Zidane doesn’t favour the forward and following his underwhelming displays of late, he probably has enough ammunition to use against him and bring in someone else. That process appears to be underway now after Bale was dropped from the matchday squad entirely for the second consecutive time.

Eden Hazard has been strongly linked with a move to the Bernabeu and Zidane has spoken highly of the Belgian. The Chelsea star won’t come cheaply but should Bale be forced out the door, the 28-year-old seems like the ideal candidate to replace him.

Gareth Bale

DISASTROUS DEFENDING

Despite Madrid’s poor run of results even after Zidane’s return, there are little snippets of the attack threatening to click. With players like Brahim and Vinicius being introduced into fold, there’s plenty of potential in the final third.

However, there’s been no improvement defensively and therein lies the real concern for Madrid. Again, they were at sixes and sevens in the defeat to Sociedad.

The defending was shambolic as Vallejo allowed Mikel Oyarzabal to run in behind him before eventually scoring, only for VAR to rule out his goal for offside. The centre-back was at fault again, along with Dani Carvajal, when Sociedad did equalise as Merino had acres of space inside the area.

Marcelo wore the armband in Sergio Ramos’ absence but hardly led by example. The full-back ducked out of the way as Barrenetxea rose above him to score with a looping header.

Part of the problem is personnel but Real, who have conceded 44 goals in the league this season, are woefully unorganised at the back. There’s a lot of work to be done over the summer.

Jesus Vallejo

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