Thirty-nine matches and three Champions Leagues later, European competition is finished for Keylor Navas. Santiago Solari placed his faith in Thibaut Courtois for the trip to Plzen and executed the change of keeper.
The Costa Rican had sensed it since the Belgian arrived at Valdebebas, but he managed to resist during the first three months of competition.
With Solari, it’s over.
The Argentine has gone with the most conservative formula in the goal and will give LaLiga Santander and the Champions League to the new signing whilst allowing Keylor to play in the Copa del Rey.
On Wednesday at 6pm local time, Solari named his XI, and once Navas understood he wasn’t in it, he collapsed.
Even though he knew it was coming, it was a tremendous blow for him.
He won’t have a bad word said about the club, Solari or Courtois, but he won’t stop wondering what he has done to deserve such treatment.
In each transfer window of the last few years, names of various keepers were mentioned, and Keylor knew that they were not inventions of the press, but a real threat that came from the board.
He briefly considered the idea of leaving Madrid, but tireless fighter as he is, he went into warrior mode.
Three months later, the reality has bitten.
“If your club takes the best goalkeeper of the World Cup for 35 million euros it’s to play him,” they said.
Lopetegui, in a decision that took its toll, gave Keylor the Champions League games as a gesture to the dressing room where the Costa Rican is well liked.
But Solari came in to change things.
His first two decisions have been to give Vinicius more minutes and Courtois all the big games – both of which Florentino Perez demanded.