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Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid complicated by Keylor Navas' presence

Real Madrid's reported interest in Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is based on sound logic. The Belgium international is in no way averse to the move, he has plenty of Liga experience having spent three successful seasons on loan at Atletico, he will immediately feel at home in the Spanish capital and, at just 24 years of age, he could reasonably be expected to spend a decade between the Bernabeu sticks.

There are a couple of stumbling blocks to any potential summer transfer, though. Chief among these will be Courtois' price tag. Keepers do not command eye-watering fees as a matter of course and Gianluigi Buffon's €40 million move from Parma to Juventus in 2001 remains the record for a No. 1.

Chelsea will be in no mood to do Real Madrid a favour and Courtois will in all likelihood usurp the Italy great in that respect if the Liga club make a serious play for the Belgian. The Blues scarcely need the income and will do their level best to hold Florentino Perez to ransom, which will be a dangerous game for the Bernabeu bean counters to play in an election year with El Presi itching to break out his cheque book.

The second will be the thorny issue of what to do with Keylor Navas. The Costa Rican stopper has been firmly taken to the Bernabeu's heart and has excelled in facing adversity with stoic resilience in the same way he has thrown it up against opposition attacks.

On Aug. 31, 2015, Navas had both feet out of the door and his bags packed as the makeweight in a deal to bring David De Gea to Madrid. That transfer fell through rather spectacularly on deadline day when the paperwork for the Manchester United keeper's Liga registration failed to be submitted on time, with fingers being pointed over either a dodgy fax machine at the Bernabeu or United's tardiness.

Courtois can at least rest assured that Perez has been to PC World since then: "What I do know is that Real Madrid made a very nice gesture to me," he said last September, alluding to his three-month layoff a year earlier. "When I hurt my knee I was sent a fax wishing me a speedy recovery."

The revelation is intriguing. Madrid are probably not in the habit of sending get-well-soon faxes to every player who suffers an injury setback and so have apparently been planning a move for the Chelsea keeper for some time.

At around the same time Perez was hastily drawing up a new-and-improved contract to smooth the ruffled feathers of Navas, who subsequently embarked on the second-longest unbeaten run in Champions League history and conceded just three overall as Real went on to lift the Undecima.

Perez has displayed his ruthlessness before in dealing with Iker Casillas, but he will win few friends if he discards Navas in a similar fashion. The Costa Rican explained on Spanish radio how he wept privately after the De Gea debacle and his treatment by Real Madrid. "They are moments that I hope never happen again, because they were not good," he said with admirable restraint.

There is no room for sentiment in modern football, but Navas has done little to warrant the constant shadow of a potential replacement hanging over his head. He also has the support of his teammates, as he revealed in the same interview. Little wonder: Navas has proven to be exactly that since he assumed the No. 1 shirt from Casillas at the start of last season.

Courtois may stand five inches taller than Navas but the Real keeper has earned his Spanish nickname of La Pantera, one previously bestowed on arguably the greatest of all time in Lev Yashin.

Navas has not been performing to the same standards as last year, but it should be remembered that he underwent Achilles' tendon surgery in June and returned to the side in late September, a little rusty and perhaps a little over-cautious but hardly prone to calamitous mistakes. Although he has only kept two clean sheets since his recovery, he has also saved a fair few points with some cracking stops and, at 30, is in a keeper's prime. Buffon is still going strong a month shy of his 39th birthday.

The Real keeper has also been playing behind an injury-ravaged and ever-changing back four. Courtois, while his 11 Premier League clean sheets are undoubtedly impressive, has had an Antonio Conte system to protect him and has faced only 16 more shots on goal than Navas in double the number of league matches so far in 2016-17.

Whatever transpires next summer, Navas should be allowed to lay out his own terms. Madrid owe him that much, and so much more besides.