Begovic, Courtois and Real Madrid's Goalkeeping Options for Next Season
Wednesday’s revelation that Real Madrid could make a summer swoop for Asmir Begovic only reinforces what we already know: The Primera Division leaders would prefer to revamp their goalkeeping situation ahead of next season.
According to the Telegraph, Madrid are hoping to prise Begovic from Premier League side Stoke City after the World Cup, where the 26-year-old will be representing Bosnia-Herzegovina. The reported fee is £15 million, which hardly seems exorbitant for a player who could end up tending the nets for six or seven seasons.
However, Madrid have other options as well. In the following slides, we’ll examine five (actually six) potential goalkeepers who could end up backstopping Los Blancos in 2014-15.
5. Keylor Navas, Levante
Keylor Navas will almost certainly leave Levante during the summer.
According to AS (h/t Football Espana), the 27-year-old Costa Rica international has resisted putting pen to paper on a new contract at the Valencia club, while Mundo Deportivo (h/t Inside Spanish Football) has already linked him to both Sevilla and AC Milan.
One of La Liga’s standout goalkeepers so far this season, Navas could conceivably join Real Madrid for as little as €10 million—his current buy-out clause.
4. Thibaut Courtois, Atletico Madrid
Last week, Thibaut Courtois reportedly told Spanish radio station Cadena SER (h/t Inside Spanish Football) that he had an agreement in place to join Real Madrid in 2016.
He has since denied the report, saying such rumours were concocted to “destabilise” current club Atletico Madrid, according to AS (h/t The Independent). However, his reputation as one of European football’s best goalkeepers will always have him linked to one of the continent’s biggest clubs.
At this point, it’s difficult to see the Belgium international making the switch to local rivals Real, but the fact the rumours are out there indicates it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
Stranger things have happened.
3. Diego Lopez/Iker Casillas
Naturally, one of Madrid’s options is to stay the course with their current arrangement, which has Diego Lopez and Iker Casillas sharing duties.
Both goalkeepers have been absolutely outstanding so far this season. With the club doing well in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League, it would hardly be a surprise if they looked to retain the duo for at least another season.
Of course, whether Lopez and Casillas would be willing to return is another matter altogether.
Italian outlet Tuttosport (h/t AS) has already speculated that Lopez could be on his way to AC Milan. Meanwhile, a Madrid icon, Casillas would no doubt prefer to regain the No. 1 job on a full-time basis.
Their decisions will have everything to do with the course Madrid choose to take over the next few months.
2. Asmir Begovic, Stoke City
Count Peter Coates among the crowd that consider Asmir Begovic to be the best goalkeeper in English football.
“I firmly believe Asmir has proven over the last few years that he’s the best goalkeeper in the Premier League,” the Stoke City chairman told the Telegraph. “He’s ambitious and wants to play at as high a level as he can.”
That ambition could well take the Bosnia-Herzegovina international to Real Madrid during the summer, although the Potters will no doubt look to drive up his price before they let him go.
1. Kiko Casilla, Espanyol
He’s not “Casillas,” but he’s only a letter off.
Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla has played all 27 matches for the ninth-placed side so far this season, recording eight clean sheets and stopping 89 percent of shots faced, according to statistics from The Score.
Current teammate Raul Rodriguez told Goal.com the 27-year-old “has the ability to play for Real Madrid,” and a switch to the Bernabeu would be a homecoming of sorts for Casilla, who played in Madrid’s youth system between 2004 and 2007.