Thibaut Courtois: Onto Greener Pastures?
Standing at 6-foot-6, the Belgian shot-stopper would intimidate even the bravest of souls. But with Courtois looking to be on the move to Madrid, this venture could be the make-or-break situation concerning how his career is remembered, and he will not be given a moments rest in the Spanish capital, just ask Keylor Navas.
The Chelsea keeper has been identified as Julen Lopetegui’s number 1 target after they seemed to be priced out of a move for Alisson. Keylor Navas does not seem to be good enough for the recently departed Spanish national team manager – even though I personally see him as one of the most underrated players in the world – as he is not suited to Lopetegui’s style of play, according to The Guardian. He just doesn’t seem to fit the Galactico profile that Florentino Pérez lusts for.
Lopetegui has always played the Spanish way, with high possession numbers and giving his players freedom to express themselves through the football. Even though statistically Navas’s distribution accuracy is at 81% to Courtois’ 73%, Courtois attempted nearly double the passes Navas did. Taking that into account and also considering many of Courtois’ balls would have been longer as Conte was not a manager hell bent on playing out from the back. Chelsea’s XGA, which is expected goals against, was 34.75 and they only conceded 31 goals. This evidently shows Courtois would give the Madrid club a steady pair of hands and tallying up 9 more clean sheets than his Costa-Rican counterpart, which may be why Julen is looking to move him along.
Sometimes, football is more than stats. By Courtois taking up the GK spot at Real Madrid, it appeases the fans who want to assemble a team full of Galacticos, just like the old years. Buying a goalkeeper who has recently won the Golden Glove at one of the best World Cups (in my personal opinion) is certainly on its way to Galactico status. To add him alongside Golden Ball winner Luka Modrić, the Real hierarchy would be sending out a real message, that “we only want the best of the best” mentality is most certainly playing constantly within the minds of those who hold power at the Bernabeu.
This could explain why Eden Hazard is becoming an increasingly likely replacement to CR7. Additionally, it must give that ageing, but still classy, defence more assurance behind them, and allow them to feel safer if they do end up making a mistake.
I do question if Real Madrid and Courtois are a match made in heaven, more like a match made on Take Me Out. Not perfect for each other, but both seem pleased enough to have one another. Mr Pérez knows that Thibaut is a steal at just €30 million and Real Madrid would be foolish to not at least have a punt at the Belgian number one.