3-Way Battle for Real Madrid Goalkeeper Role an Example of Club's Crazy Policies

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Costa Rica international soccer player Keylor Navas poses during his official presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, after signing for Real Madrid. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Real Madrid: It's the club that never stops giving in the transfer market, in entertainment terms, in column inches and in cold, hard currency to rival clubs.

From planning to build around the brightest and best of youthful Spanish talent to spending €100 million on their positional rivals a year later, the ever-changing face of Real Madrid's transfer policy has one common denominator: They always want the current best faces to have the club crest on their shirts.

That holds true even when it's at the expense of what many consider to be the greater good for the team, or it comes at the expense of allowing players to establish and experience consistency on the playing field.

The current battle for the goalkeeper spot in the first team is an exact microcosm of what has gone on for years at Real Madrid, with new signing Keylor Navas being added to a squad containing Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez, as confirmed by Marca.

New, Shiny Navas

Navas was at Levante in last season's La Liga championship and was the best goalkeeper in the top flight.

By the way, if you didn't already know...Keylor Navas is the best keeper in La Liga.

— Phil Kitromilides (@PhilKitro) June 29, 2014

Keylor Navas. Been fantastic all season. Between him and Thibaut Courtois for best keeper in La Liga.

— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) June 14, 2014

Keylor Navas has had a great La Liga campaign for Levante. One of the best performing GKs in Spain. In Costa Rica's squad for WC.

— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) May 20, 2014

Great reflexes and agility, a high level of consistency and an improving presence in his penalty box made him a big force for the club. Navas was constantly expected to produce top saves behind a middle-of-the-table defence, which made him an obvious target for highlight reels.

Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

That's not to diminish his performances—he absolutely was impressive—but it was easy to be impressive at times when he was called upon to react.

8 - Keylor Navas made eight saves against Real Madrid, his best figure in a La Liga game this season. Feline.

— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 9, 2014

He was impressive at the World Cup with Costa Rica as his nation became record setters, and the Navas story continued to grow as he was linked with the likes of Bayern Munich, per Marca. Real Madrid, then, had to have their man, despite already having a titanic battle on the go for a one-man position.

"First-Choice" Lopez and Club Legend Iker

One man who is particularly unhappy at the Navas signing is last season's first-choice goalkeeper for Real, Lopez.

Marca's Oscar Mendez quotes the Spanish stopper as telling the club's board members: "I am the best and you all know it, but do whatever you like."

Lalo R. Villar/Associated Press

It seems almost certain that Lopez will depart Madrid this summer, as he would otherwise be left as third choice for the coming campaign despite having played almost every league game last term. So far there is no concrete offer for him to join a new big club, but it seems Real are happy for him to leave as soon as possible.

And so to Champions League winner Casillas, who has been at the club since he was a teenager, the captain who lofted la decima only a few short months ago—but still the club's No. 2 domestically.

After 18 months on the subs bench, is he set to continue the pattern and only play in Europe? Can he rediscover the form which made him the world's best in previous years?

Who and What Next?

Manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that Casillas will start in goal for the European Super Cup, in which Real Madrid will play against Spanish rivals Sevilla, as per his comments in AS (in Spanish).

Beyond that, though, there is little to suggest the Spanish keeper will keep his place with a new rival to battle for the jersey, and even fans believe Navas should get the nod to be the regular stopper, as per Marca. Casillas' preseason performances haven't helped his popularity, just as his error in the Champions League final almost cost Real their trophy.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - MAY 24:  Iker Casillas of Real Madrid looks on during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at Estadio da Luz on May 24, 2014 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The improvement of any particular position isn't a big deal. Clubs do it on a day-by-day basis.

But only once Navas is established and has a run of games—if indeed he is the No. 1—will we see if Real's latest signing is one of genuine improvement and progression for the side which required the removing and probable sale of the previous incumbent.

Navas and Real will hope it isn't just another way of flexing their financial muscle for the brightest name on show in the current transfer market, one which will just require or be forced into another change 12 months further down the line.


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