Real Madrid transfer news – Courtois to return to Spain?

Many football transfers and subsequent careers often occur as much by accident as design, with the career of Keylor Navas at Real Madrid a curious mix of the two. Signed from Levante in 2014, the Costa Rican was primarily a back-up for Iker Casillas. When the goalkeeping legend left Madrid the following year, the club made a summer-long pursuit of David De Gea which collapsed at the eleventh hour. Navas was proposed to move to Manchester United as part of the deal but was left in limbo as Madrid’s ‘accidental’ first-choice.

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Remarkably, the goalkeeper has helped the club to a remarkable feat of winning three consecutive Champions League titles but he may lose his position this summer with various reports across the Spanish press linking the European champions with a move for Chelsea shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois.

Despite being a reliable number one, Navas does not fall into the world’s elite bracket of goalkeepers and is still prone to errors more regularly than is ideal for a club of Madrid’s stature. They have continually been seeking an upgrade and the departure of Zinedine Zidane – a big fan of the Costa Rican – has accelerated their attempts to sign a new goalkeeper. The French coach allegedly blocked a move for Athletic Club Bilbao shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga in January, despite the insistence of president Florentino Perez.

Another crucial development is the contractual situation of Courtois, whose deal at Stamford Bridge expires next summer. Rather than risk losing him on a free next summer, the FA Cup winners will reportedly sanction an exit at a significantly watered-down price. Their one condition appears to be finding a suitable replacement, with Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford and Kasper Schmeichel all linked.

The Belgian’s stock is as high as ever after excelling with his nation at the World Cup where he won the competition’s Golden Gloves award. Many believe he is in the world’s elite bracket of goalkeepers, alongside De Gea, Jan Oblak, Manuel Neuer and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Courtois also has strong links to Madrid and has regularly spoken of his desire to return, having played for Atletico Madrid there between 2011 and 2014. His two young children live with his ex-partner in the Spanish capital, while the allure of playing for the European champions is obvious. There are odds available of him joining Madrid at 1/3 before the end of the window, while a return to Atleti is priced at 25/1.

Should Chelsea find their replacement then an exit for the Belgian is seemingly obvious, as the West London club would not want a demotivated goalkeeper running down his contract before then losing him without a profit. You can find odds of him departing the Blues for any destination this summer at 2/9, or 3/1 to remain at the Bridge. A move to the Bernabeu appears likely, but Chelsea better get a move on with their replacement with the English window closing in early August.

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