What does Keylor Navas have to do to be considered a galáctico? I guess joining Real Madrid from a big club, arriving only after months of speculation and on the back of being declared the best player in another important league. But he has everything else. This season the Costa Rica keeper has gone through one of those spells that only the mentally strong come through successfully. After his injury, which required surgery and meant he missed pre-season, he was thrust back into the grandest of stages in the Real Madrid goal and he made mistakes. And he continued to make them.
But Navas was born again, spurred on by a gesture from Sergio Ramos, a word of advice from Marcelo or Luka Modric and always supported by the unerring faith placed in him by Zinedine Zidane, the quiet leader who has repeatedly said: “You can,” and has watched as his players were able to. The power of words, right?
There are many goalkeepers who don’t care much for training. Throwing yourself to the floor a hundred times a day however much you’re prepared to work hard is not to everybody’s taste. But Navas knows this is his other secret, together with his mental fortitude: he loves to train. He always does so with maximum intensity, conscious of the fact that daily improvement is measured in millimetres.
He also knows, as do the rest of the squad, that David de Gea’s arrival in Madrid is imminent. In the light of that, a keeper could be forgiven for complaining. Or he could lick his lips at the prospect of the challenge, the competition. I suspect that Navas is of the latter persuasion.