GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA'S ARRIVAL AT PSG POTENTIALLY SPELLS DOOM FOR KEYLOR NAVAS
It is really looking like history will repeat itself for PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas. The 34-year-old was top dog at Real Madrid since his arrival in 2014. With the departure of club legend Iker Casillas, the Costa Rican was the default starter for four seasons. In 2018, Los Blancos signed Thibaut Courtois, another brilliant goalkeeper and five years younger than Navas.
Keylor Navas or Thibaut Courtois?
Through their first 40 games at Real Madrid, it's not even close. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/kOXpkzaxBu
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) September 19, 2019
They competed for the starting role during 2018-19 with Navas only appearing in 10 league games. He was mostly used in the cup competitions and Europe before leaving for France in 2019. He has had two solid seasons, keeping 25 clean sheets across the two seasons in Ligue 1. However, with PSG signing the biggest free-agent goalkeeper in a long time, his position as number one looks incredibly tenuous.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 22-year-old and standing at a massive 6’5”, is poised to join Le Parisiens after snubbing approaches from Juventus and other clubs across Europe. The Italian international has been touted as one of the brightest prospects in a generation, having already made over 250 appearances at club level. In 2020-21, he kept 14 clean sheets, same as Navas, with AC Milan securing Champions League football again.
87.3% – Starting from November 2018 Gianluigi Donnarumma is the goalkeeper with the highest save in terms of percentage in top-5 European Leagues (min.3 apps). Safety. pic.twitter.com/jINGwa7qu2
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 5, 2019
With money being a key issue for his not extending with the Rossoneri, PSG were quick to pounce. Though the club stated that both ‘keepers would fight to prove themselves, it looks increasingly likely that Navas would be gradually sidelined. His increasing age is the first factor that is definitely not on his side. Donnarumma is 12 years younger and has enough talent to become the starting goalkeeper at any club in the world.
He is an expert at reading the game, has a commanding authority inside the box and catches practically anything in the air. Along with great reflexes and an increased maturity from being one of the leaders for AC Milan, he will certainly be more than just competing at PSG. Neither of them will be happy with a decrease in game time, which is sure to come.
10 – No other goalkeeper has made more saves than @PSG_English's Keylor Navas 🇨🇷 in a Champions League quarter-final game since at least 2003/04 (also 10 for Manuel Neuer 🇩🇪 against Real Madrid in 2017). Heroic. pic.twitter.com/giUNHCCsZc
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 7, 2021
The second compelling reason why Donnarumma is going to become the first-choice with time is that he has not been a “secondary” since he made his debut aged 17. This is not a backup goalkeeper that PSG signed, this is a club and country starter. A whole host of clubs were after the Italian, and him going to France is another statement signing which states that PSG are going to push for European glory once again.
Gianluigi Donnarumma has requested the number 99 shirt at PSG.
The goalkeeper will earn €60m over his 5-year contract at the French club and his agent Mino Raiola is set to earn around €20m commission from the deal.
— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) June 8, 2021
Navas, for his part, does look likely to at least spend the upcoming season competing but for how long he can keep his urge to depart remains a question. The Costa Rican will be a top goalkeeper at any number of clubs that are in need of a proven shot-stopper. FootTheBall looks at some of the options if he does decide to leave in the near future.
The Gunners have had a terrible season, and Mikel Arteta is sure to oversee a lot of changes. One welcome addition will be Navas, who is sure to prove an upgrade for the often error-prone Bernd Leno. The German has been good, nothing great, and has had to face scrutiny over some of his performances from time to time.
— Express Sport (@DExpress_Sport) June 6, 2021
The club signed Matt Ryan to back Leno up, though both have some way from being world-class like Navas. With the owners promising to spend money on players this summer, it remains to be seen who all arrive. One potential roadblock could be the absence of European football for next season, which can be a major deterrent for big names.
The Old Lady were once the favourites to land Donnarumma, but new manager Max Allegri pulled the plug on that. Juventus insist they are keeping current incumbent Wojeich Szczesny as number one, but the Costa Rican will not be a bad addition at all.
— Forza Juventus (@ForzaJuveEN) June 10, 2021
He will be a cheaper buy than Donnarumma and will bring a wealth of European experience too from his time in Spain. After a disappointing 4th place finish despite their Coppa Italia win, Juventus are expected to challenge for the title once again this year. Furthermore, club legend Gianluigi Buffon has also left the club which leaves a big hole for another top goalkeeper in Turin.
STAYING AT PSG?
There have been persistent rumours that Donnarumma could be loaned out for his first season with PSG. With the PSG president stating time and again that Navas will be the number one (he has signed a contract extension till 2024), Donnarumma might not even be at Parc des Princes for 2021-22. That will offer the veteran a big chance to impress upon his employers that he deserves to remain number one for at least a few more years.
Navas’ three years remaining on his contract makes it difficult for any club looking to buy on the cheap. Even though he’s 34, his reflexes and shot-stopping abilities remain top-notch. PSG have just hit the jackpot in terms of goalkeepers with these two in their contingent. However, with both being extremely competitive and hungry for action, it seems that this might turn out to be another Courtois-Navas situation, with the Costa Rican becoming the victim once again.