Many of the newspapers in Spain and Britain had big pictures of David De Gea splashed across their pages, with accompanying stories trying to make sense of just how David De Gea is not a Real Madrid player. AS included, who lead with the headline ‘Two guilty, one victim.’ Madrid and Manchester United are the guilty and, to AS, De Gea is the victim. Yet amongst the confusion and focus on the Spanish stopper, one forgotten man’s future is also up in the air: Keylor Navas.
In a topsy-turvy few days, he has gone from Madrid’s No 1 goalkeeper, to transfer fodder and back again. Navas’ time at Santiago Bernabeu has been far from a fairy-tale, limited to 11 appearances in all competitions, of which only six were in La Liga. However this season looked to be one of promise. After Iker Casillas’ transfer to Porto, he inherited the No 1 shirt and started the first two League matches. After a solid showing against Real Betis, where he saved a penalty, he even received a standing ovation from the hard-to-please Madrid supporters.
But days later, he was told to pack his bags and look for homes in Manchester, as he would be heading to the Premier League as a makeweight in the De Gea deal. Navas was reportedly sat on a private plane which never left Madrid as he waited to fly to England. After being forced to get his head around the reality of his Madrid dream being over, he was told just as quickly he was told he would be staying.
Who exactly is at fault for the failed deal is unknown, with the clubs pointing the finger at one another. But the focus here is neither on Real Madrid nor Manchester United but the players, who have endured a rollercoaster of emotions. Madrid have shown a huge lack of respect to Navas and apologised. He has reportedly taken thing in his stride, despite knowing he’s at a club who don’t want him.
His plight has more or less gone unnoticed by sections of the media, and Navas’ father Freddy believes the Spanish Press are not accepting of his son as Madrid’s goalkeeper: “The Press want a Spaniard in goal at Madrid. They don’t accept a Central American. They know he’s the best but their pride won’t let them accept it”.
So what now? Even though he didn’t leave this summer, Navas’ cards are marked. De Gea joining Madrid next year is almost a certainty. It seems as though no matter how well he performs this season, he will likely be sold or second fiddle to the Spain international. But the stopper has slowly warmed the hearts of those around him, both well-liked by his teammates and the fans according to a recent poll by Marca.
And why shouldn’t he be liked? He is one of the League’s best shot-stoppers. Navas is the dependable, solid type while De Gea is the marquee signing Perez is keen very much keen on, which may prove to be his downfall.