World Cup star Keylor Navas was unveiled as Real Madrid’s new €10 million goalkeeper on Tuesday but refused to get drawn into the debate over who should be the European champions’ No1 next season.
The 27-year-old, who becomes the first Costa Rican to sign for Los Blancos, will join club legend Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez in a battle to become a regular starter at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Lopez, who was Madrid’s starter in La Liga last season while captain Casillas started in the Copa del Rey and Champions League, seems destined for pastures new with French club Monaco tracking his services. But Casillas is expected to remain and manager Carlo Ancelotti has already confirmed he will start next Tuesday’s UEFA Super Cup clash against Sevilla in Cardiff.
Navas, who shone with Levante last season and helped the Valencia-based club to an impressive defensive record only bettered by La Liga’s top-four, is a big fan of both of his new teammates and insists he will only learn from the presence of the pair and is looking forward to the stiff competition.
“I see this as a wonderful opportunity for my career to arrive at the best club in the world, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of,” said Navas, who helped his country keep three clean sheets in Brazil and progress to the quarter-finals for the first time.
“Madrid have two great goalkeepers that have played at the top for many years and it’ll help me to grow as a player. If they give me the opportunity to play I can prove that I can play well and do things right.
“I’m relaxed and I know I have to work hard. At Real Madrid you always have the best players in each position and in goal they have two great goalkeepers. What I have to do is train hard, be at the disposal of the coach and make the best of what I have here every day so when I’m called upon I’ll be ready.”
The former Albacete man has enjoyed a rapid rise after arriving in Spain from Costa Rica club Deportivo Saprissa, where he won two league titles, two summer championships and two winter championships. One season with Albacete was enough to attract the interest of Levante and last season the stopper enjoyed arguably his best season to date.
Making more saves than any other goalkeeper in the competition last season, with 160, and conceding just 39 goals in 37 matches, the campaign culminated in his star showing in Brazil, where he was a candidate for the Golden Glove, which was won by Germany’s Manuel Neuer.
Casillas’ World Cup was not as successful, with a string of errors playing a part in the holders’ early exit, but Navas says the Madrid legend is still one of the best in the business.
“I always had a concept of watching great players, great goalkeepers,” he said. “I’ve always noticed Casillas and Lopez. For many years they’ve proved to be the best in the world and that’s something to look forward to - I have them here every weekend and that’s a daily reference to learn, I can learn a lot from them.”
Navas revealed other clubs were in for his services but his only dream was to play for Madrid. “There were offers from other teams but out of respect I won’t mention names,” he said. “They were great teams but when the possibility of joining Madrid came about I didn’t doubt it for a second, it was a dream to come to this club, I didn’t have to think about my decision.”