Keylor Navas calm amid Real Madrid links to Athletic Bilbao’s Kepa
Keylor Navas is not unsettled by reports that Real Madrid are lining up a bid for Athletic Bilbao’s rising star Kepa Arrizabalaga in the winter transfer window.
Marca reports on Thursday’s front page that Real are close to reaching an agreement to acquire the Spain international goalkeeper.
Considered the most promising goalkeeper in Spain, Kepa has not signed a new contract with Athletic, with the 23-year-old’s current deal ending next summer.
Real are reportedly prepared to pay Kepa’s €20 million release clause to land the player in January.
Accustomed to transfer speculation reports, with Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea being linked with a move to Madrid, since his failed move to the club in 2015, Real’s No. 1 told Fox Deportes: “I don’t feel I need to prove anything to anyone, I just have to enjoy my career and relish what it is to be at Real Madrid.
“One doesn’t know what is going to happen in the future but I’m the one who is here now. I have to be calm and enjoy myself.”
Navas arrived at Real in the summer of 2014 from Levante and the Costa Rica international inherited the No. 1 shirt in the 2015-16 campaign after long-time keeper Iker Casillas’ departure to Porto, and has gone on to win the Champions League twice, the Club World Cup twice and La Liga once.
He said: “I hope we can continue to win many more titles and continue to enjoy this experience.
“What is very clear to me is that through work I will continue to give my best, not to convince those that don’t believe in me, but rather for those that do to enjoy themselves with my performances.”
Injuries have limited Navas to just six league starts for Real this season, with Kiko Casilla taking his place in goal.
The 30-year-old returned to action after five weeks sidelined with a muscle injury in Tuesday’s 2-2 home draw against Fuenlabrada in the Copa del Rey round-of-32 second leg.
He said: “I feel good, I’m calm. Thankfully, I have no pain and that for me that is important. I can train at my maximum, with the aim of being at my best level as soon as possible. I’m happy to be well and be back with the team.”
Navas could start in Saturday’s game at Athletic but whether Kepa will be in goal at the other end is not yet clear.
Kepa, who made his league debut in September 2016, has come up with 40 saves in 12 league starts for Athletic.
He sustained a slight ankle injury at the weekend and missed his team’s 1-0 defeat to Formentera in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey round-of-32 second leg, a result that eliminated them from the competition.
“My biggest fear is that he is not in perfect condition and that he wants to play,” Athletic coach Jose Angel ‘Cuco” Ziganda told a news conference when asked about the possibility of seeing Kepa feature against Real.
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.