No Real need for de Gea, with Navas a hit

MADRID • Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas produced another excellent performance for his club in Saturday's 5-0 Spanish La Liga win at home to Real Betis that may have left many fans of the world's richest club wondering why they even need David de Gea.

According to reports in Spanish and British media, Real are poised to pay Manchester United €40 million (S$63 million) to buy Spain goalkeeper de Gea, who has not played this season because of the protracted transfer saga, before the transfer window closes tomorrow.

If the deal is confirmed, it will put Navas, who joined Real from Levante for a fee of around €10 million after a sparkling performance at last year's World Cup, in a difficult position.

Known as the "Falcon of Costa Rica" for his agility, the 28-year-old was one of the star players at the World Cup in Brazil, as his brilliant form helped the Costa Ricans to unexpectedly reach the last eight.

Against Betis, he again demonstrated that agility when he leaped to snatch the ball from the feet of forward Ruben Castro when he seemed certain to score. Later, he also saved a penalty from the same player.

Real's new coach Rafael Benitez has repeatedly declined to confirm or deny whether de Gea will be joining the club, where he is seen as a long-term replacement for Iker Casillas, who left to join Porto last month.

Asked on Saturday whether Navas, who competes for a place with new signing Kiko Casilla, would definitely be staying, Benitez said: "I am delighted with my goalkeepers and I want to enjoy the 5-0 result. I work with the players I have and I am very pleased."

Other than Navas, midfielders Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez both shone by scoring twice each against Betis.

Over at Barcelona, Thomas Vermaelen scored his first goal for the La Liga champions in a laboured 1-0 win at home to Malaga that nevertheless maintained their perfect start to the season.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'No Real need for de Gea, with Navas a hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe