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Is Keylor Navas Nearing His End At Madrid?

It’s not been a stellar couple-of-years for the embattled net-minder.

Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur - UEFA Champions League Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Let’s talk Keylor Navas.

Real Madrid were lucky to get out of Munich with a 1 - 2 victory.

Navas was all over the place on Wednesday night, even if he did have two point-blank saves towards the end of the match that saved Real Madrid’s bacon. That aside, it was not a stellar night for Navas, and to be honest, something’s been off since his injury at the end of the 2015 - 2016 season.

That injury forced him to start the campaign late in the 16 - 17’ season, and he hasn’t been the same since. Just last year I brought up the fact that Navas had to go. And honestly, I thought he’d be replaced last summer. Boy was I was wrong.

I know that Florentino Perez just gave Keylor a glowing review, stating that the Costa Rican goalkeeper would be a Madridista for a long time to come. When a boss praises you like that in the press, it can be the kiss of death. It’s not hard to see Navas’s decline over the last couple seasons

Clean Sheets (all competitions)

15/16: 22

16/17: 7

17/18: 10

This season, there has been a bit of an uptick in clean sheets from last season, but only one of those ten clean sheets came in the Champions League. In the 15/16 season, he was one of the best keepers in the tournament and held nine clean sheets. 22 seems to be the high-water mark and that was pre-injury. He hasn’t been the same since, and was compounded on by picking up a torn abductor muscle this season causing him to miss time.

His handling of the ball was so bad last night that the backline was afraid to let him have the ball, and that’s a major problem. That’s what made the penalty area such a wasp’s nest last night, especially toward the end. All season he’s come too far off his line, and has been beat at the near post several times this season – including last night's goal from Joshua Kimmich (though was it really a shot or a misplaced cross?).

Kimmich fired it past Navas, who (to his credit) got a hand on it – just not a very strong one to keep the ball out of the back of the net. It looked like Keylor cheated out as he had a player streaking down the middle that was ripe for Kimmich to square it to. But instead, Kimmich looked up and fired the ball into the net.

Navas is prone to bad decision making. He comes off his line and tries to be a sweeper coming out of his area to chase down balls more than I’d like to see. Just keep on your line and keep the ball out of the back of the net. Yes, the defense will hang you out to dry every now and then –- the buck stops at the back.

I’m not going to talk replacements, because I’ve already done that –- last year. This time, Los Blancos need to pull the trigger on a new keeper. It’s plainly obvious that Navas just isn’t the answer anymore and that’s a shame. Injuries have taken its toll, and lets face it, he’s not the keeper he used to be.

Listen, I’m not hating on Navas at all -– I’m being realistic. It makes me slightly nervous when he’s trying to handle a ball or clear his line and you can tell that, and like I said above, his defense is afraid to let him handle the ball. They did everything in their power, so he didn’t have to touch the ball that often -– though it led to several nervy moments in last night’s match and we still have the home leg to go.

Only two matches left in the Champions League and Navas needs to be at his best, if we as fans want to see los Merengues lift the trophy for the third year in a row. It’s a tough ask, but it can happen. I’m betting on a Liverpool/Real Madrid final – I know I’m getting ahead of myself. But Bayern is going to have a tough go of it in the Bernabéu – the bright spot is bringing two away goals home.

Even if Real Madrid win the Champions League… again – I don’t think Navas stays the summer. I’ve said this before, and I’ve been wrong. But they cannot continue to rely on a shaky Navas to get the job done.

Now let’s do some bullets.

· Keylor’s last clean sheet in La Liga came on March 31st. We’re almost done with April and in the last three matches, opponents have scored against us.

· He’s played in 25 (in La Liga) matches this year, letting in 29 goals. That works out to just over a goal a match. He’s not giving up many, but he’s still giving them up.

· Last term, he played in 27 La Liga matches and let in 31 goals, and only had five clean sheets to his name.

· Last year in the Champions League he played in 12 matches, allowing 17 goals and only one clean sheet.

· This season in the UCL, he’s played in nine matches, having allowed 10 goals and just one clean sheet. Compare that to his phenomenal 15/16, where he played in 11 matches and allowed three goals and had nine clean sheets.

· Between the Achilles tendon surgery and his torn abductor muscle, injuries have taken its toll and it shows.

Real Madrid have the money to go out on the transfer market this summer and find a goal keeper of better quality than Navas. De Gea has been thrown around as a name for a couple years now – I just don’t think it’s going to happen. The Kepa deal fell through when he re-signed with his club.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but something needs to be done about the goalkeeper position this summer. It will be a long 18/19 season if Navas remains as the number one goalkeeper in the Spanish Capital.

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