How do Real Madrid replace Thibaut Courtois? David de Gea, Keylor Navas and six possible signings after goalkeeper suffers serious knee injury

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Real Madrid are left without a top class goalkeeper after stalwart Thibaut Courtois tore his ACL in training.

Real Madrid officially have a massive goalkeeping problem. On Thursday, the club announced that Thibaut Courtois — arguably among the best in the world in his position — had injured his ACL during training. He will undergo surgery in the coming days, and is effectively out for the season before it's even begun.

So what do Madrid do now? Los Blancos have a solid back-up in their ranks, with Andriy Lunin having shown promise in a handful of appearances. But there are also a few interesting options potentially available on the market.

Signing one of them likely won't be an expensive endeavour, however, and Madrid will still back Courtois to return to his pre-injury form in 2024-25, so the player must come in with their eyes open that this could be a one-season agreement.

Regardless, Madrid need a competent No.1 if they are to compete on all three fronts this season, so who's available? GOAL looks at Madrid's best options...

  1. David de Gea (free agent)

    David de Gea (free agent)

    David de Gea is a curious one. As a shot-stopper, there aren't many better out there. The Spanish keeper has made some extraordinary saves over the years and proved himself as a solid one-on-one operator, too.

    Still, it's hard to overlook his fault and there are a lot of them. De Gea is poor with his feet, increasingly error prone, and is beaten at his near post concerningly often. Throw in the size of his expected salary demands, and this doesn't make the most sense in terms of value for money.

    Manchester United have struggled with his risks and rewards for a few years now — and finally made the decision to get rid of him this summer. But a desperate Madrid might just overlook the bad in order to take advantage of the good. They have, after all, tried to sign him before...

  2. Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)

    Keylor Navas (Paris Saint-Germain)

    How about a wholesome reunion? Keylor Navas enjoyed an excellent spell between the sticks for Madrid from 2014-2018. It was, in fact, the arrival of Courtois that saw the Costa Rican depart for Paris Saint-Germain.

    And he didn't have much luck there, either. The Parisians signed Gigi Donnarumma within 10 months of his arrival, and relegated Navas to the bench. He's still out of starting contention in Paris, but a loan spell at Nottingham Forest towards the end of last season showed that he can still play at the highest level.

    PSG might want to keep him, though, with Sergio Rico's horrendous accident leaving the Parisians without a clear No.2. It's one to watch, but external factors might, once again, limit Navas' career prospects.

  3. Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)

    Kepa Arrizabalaga (Chelsea)

    It would be the ultimate act of failing upwards. Kepa Arrizabalaga has shown in the five years since his record-breaking £72 million ($92m) move to Chelsea that he isn't really that good of a goalkeeper. The Spain international has enjoyed some memorable moments and has some top saves in him, but his flaws have consistently outweighed his ability. He has been error-ridden over the course of his stay, and has a real problem stopping shots from distance.

    That could be an issue for a Madrid side that don't really concede too many chances. If anything, Madrid 'keepers have to be able to stop the certain goals, and salvage games that seem to be going the other way.

    It remains to be seen whether Chelsea would sell, but they have just signed Robert Sanchez from Brighton and Bayern Munich have already tested the water as they search for their own No.1. Madrid could do worse than get themselves involved, too.

  4. Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)
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    Yassine Bounou (Sevilla)

    Yassine Bounou became something of a cult hero at the 2022 World Cup after turning in a handful of excellent performances for Morocco, and he carried that momentum into the club season for Sevilla, playing a key role as the Spanish side won the Europa League (again.)

    He isn't a very versatile option. Indeed, Bounou is a pure shot-stopper, capable of delivering in big moments. If Ancelotti wants a keeper to spray the ball around, or even come off his line regularly, he isn't really the right fit.

    He could, though, certainly do a job. Bounou's skill in penalty shootouts is undeniable, while he is also surprisingly good in the air, despite being under 6'3. And at 32, he might be a solid option on a short-term deal.

  5. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

    Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

    Was Hugo Lloris ever truly a world-class goalkeeper? He certainly isn't now, having fallen out of favour at Tottenham, and the former captain for club and country now finds himself as a 36-year-old back-up with no imminent opportunities.

    Enter Madrid. Los Blancos love a reclamation project, and have made good use of reliable veterans over the years. Lloris fits that description, and though he is no longer able to produce the spectacular and has more errors in his game than he used to, his experience could prove valuable..

    He has won a World Cup, led his nation to the final of another, and carried a Tottenham team during an unlikely 2019 Champions League final run. Madrid undoubtedly need a cool head between the sticks, and Lloris certainly ticks that box.

  6. Giorgi Mamardashvili (Valencia)
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    Giorgi Mamardashvili (Valencia)

    It might not be encouraging for a team for their goalkeeper to be voted Fans' Player of the Year, but Giorgi Mamardashvili holds that honour after posting an admirable season for relegation-threatened Valencia in 2022-23. He admittedly had a lot to do, but his save percentage was solid.

    The Georgian has tons of potential, and at 22, seems primed to improve over the years to come. He's 6'6, imposing in the air, and surprisingly good with the ball at his feet. He will look for a move away at some point, and has been linked in Bayern Munich this summer.

    Madrid, right now, might be a bit too early, but Los Blancos might not have a choice.

  7. Stick with Lunin
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    Stick with Lunin

    It's not sexy, but Madrid have an agreeable alternative on their bench already. Lunin hasn't managed to see the pitch much, as playing behind Courtois isn't exactly conducive to getting loads of playing timem but there have been signs that he could do a job.

    Lunin already knows the club, has the faith of the manager, and has been kept around — suggesting he would, at the very least, hold value as a back-up, and perhaps that will be enough.

    Madrid could simply opt to stick it out for a year, and wait for Courtois to return to full fitness. This would, indeed, be the cheapest option, and allow for the reallocation of funds elsewhere — potentially in pursuit of a certain French forward...

  8. What Madrid should do
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    What Madrid should do

    Of all the potential signings, Madrid would be best served going for De Gea. It's a move that has almost happened on numerous occasions, and now might be the time to pull the trigger. There won't be any transfer fee associated with his acquisition, and though his wage demands will be high, there would be no one to match them for a player who currently doesn't have a club.

    It might not be a signing that will breed great excitement, but De Gea, on his best day, can be a top-class keeper. That's a gamble worth taking — at very low risk.

    The only other sensible option is to stick with Lunin and hope he is the goalkeeper Madrid think he is. That comes at an even lower cost, but his lack of big-game experience could come back to bite Ancelotti if the decision is incorrect.