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Goalkeeper Will Be Key to Success This Season

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With all the incoming signings, could there by a bigger key to the season that we’ve forgotten about?

SOCCER: JUL 23 International Champions Cup - Real Madrid v Arsenal
Thibaut Courtois smiles during the Penalty Shootout in Landover, MD
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a season full of disappointment, Madridistas everywhere are filled with excitement awaiting for the new season to begin. Florentino has reverted to his old ways and decided to dive into the market to buy, and buy, and buy some more. Eclipsing his spending record from 2009, he has bought a big-name player in Eden Hazard to help with the current squad. Hazard has made it well known that he wanted to play at the club for years, in particular for Zidane who happens to be his childhood idol. With Zidane coming back into the fold it was only a matter of time until the Hazard announcement would come.

Florentino also went into the market and bought players for the future. Looking at Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo all being north of 30, their positions were reinforced with an idea of slowly integrating their replacements into the squad. Florentino went and bought the likes of Eder Militao from Porto, Luka Jovic from Frankfurt, and Ferland Mendy from Lyon. All those signings are in their 20s with tons of upside, but have also played with the European elite and performed well. Lastly, Florentino decided to bring in some younger players with the idea of them being future stars and if they don’t play for the first team, they should still bring in some profit for their transfers.

Many of these younger players have impressed with the first team during pre-season, both in matches and in training sessions. Both Rodrygo Goes and Takefusa Kubo will most likely end up playing a majority of their games for Castilla. But this was Florentino’s plan all along: Bring excitement to the fan base so that fans forget the past season. But the truth is, last season was miserable for Madridistas everywhere. and there are still some worries about this current squad.

The only player who will directly walk into the squad is Hazard. Most likely Jovic and Mendy will give rest and depth to the squad, but if Hazard is the only upgrade to the starting line-up, is that enough? Simply put, No, but it is what we may have to deal with. There are a few ways this squad can regain their form of years past.

The most important being the goalkeeper position. Thibaut Courtois was brought in after a fantastic World Cup, in what was the greatest performance I have seen at the World Cup by a goalkeeper since the Madrid legend himself, Iker Casillas, in 2010. Madrid need Courtois to be that keeper — the one that was awarded the Golden Gloves. The keeper that made Florentino splash the cash. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Courtois didn’t live up to the hype in his first season in the Spanish capital.

Courtois is considered to be one of the best keepers in the world because of his performances with Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, and the Belgium National Team. But the truth is Real Madrid is bigger than all of those teams and the fans at the Bernabeu are some of the harshest in the world. Look at the treatment of players that have played for the club, such as Bale who has been instrumental in the club winning four Champions Leagues in five years. Even club legends have been subjected to whistles, such as Iker Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Raul Gonzalez. Courtois hasn’t been at his best, having been subjected to some whistles from fans too. Regaining that World Cup form would be the best way to put those whistles behind him and be the keeper that Florentino initially bought.

If Courtois doesn’t want to be that goalkeeper, than Keylor Navas needs to be put in between the posts for the season — allowing Courtois to leave next summer during the transfer window. With Madrid’s flowing attacking football, every player is a part of the attack, and Zidane loves for his fullbacks to push high which will leave Madrid exposed at the back — and this is where Courtois will have to be at his best. Coming off his line, snuffing out counter attacks, and coming up with huge saves in crucial moments.

It is essential for Courtois to regain this form or he can pack his bags. If he doesn’t deliver, Florentino should go back into the market and find someone who can. This is a make or break season for Courtois, and he needs to perform, considering last year was mediocre at best. The keeper position hasn’t always been a strength at the club, but it needs to be, because the top clubs in Europe have top keepers. Liverpool have Allison, Barcelona have Ter Stegen, Atletico have Oblak, Bayern have Neuer, and the list goes on. Madridistas know Casillas’s boots are hard to fill, but its time for Courtois to step into those boots and be the keeper he can be.