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Transfer rumours
Wednesday 7. February 2018 - 14:32

Real Madrid's search for a keeper looks set to end with signing Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois… and the Belgian is desperate to g

Florentino Perez likes nothing more than finally landing his target after a long-drawn out tug-of-war with a rival club, but he also loves a player who makes great efforts to force his way out of a club and into the arms of Real Madrid.

That's why Thibaut Courtois' interview with Belgian magazine Sport and the declaration: 'My heart is in Madrid' will have moved the 26-year-old back to the top of the club president's wanted list.

David de Gea has long been Perez's favourite but the deal is difficult to do because wounds have still not entirely healed since the two clubs accused each other over the bungled transfer of the Spaniard to Madrid on deadline day 2015.

And even if they were the best of friends, De Gea is too valuable to Manchester United for them to contemplate letting him go for anything less than £100million.

De Gea's current deal runs out in 2019, albeit it with an option to automatically renew him for a further year. Madrid would also struggle to meet the level of salary United can pay.

Courtois' groans for home where he spent three happy seasons at Atletico Madrid and where his two children live would make him — as Madrid see it — more likely to come in on a salary that will not blow apart the club's current wage structure.

"My personal situation is related to the city of Madrid," Courtois told Sport. "My two children live there with their mum. I speak to my daughter every day on Facetime. I miss them and whenever I have the opportunity, I try to make a return trip to Spain."

Despite his Atletico spell, there would be no emotional barrier to joining Real Madrid. Atletico have their own outstanding keeper in Jan Oblak, although he will be an obvious target for Chelsea or Manchester United should Courtois or De Gea leave.

What seems certain is that Madrid will sign a new keeper in the summer. 'I'm relaxed about it because I know that one day I am going to have to go, no one lasts forever,' Keylor Navas said recently. 'I don't know if there are doubts about me but I do know that I have a contract.'

He is well aware that the club tried to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga in January but Zinedine Zidane resisted and sensing that, in a World Cup year, the young keeper was not going to play, he opted to stay at Athletic Bilbao and sign a new deal.

Kepa might have been manageable competition for Navas because at 23 he remains a long way from being the finished article.

Courtois or De Gea would be very different propositions and most likely signal the end of the Costa Rica's time at the Santiago Bernabeu, at least as first choice.

It was loyalty to him that originally derailed the move for De Gea in 2015. Madrid are old hands at big transfers and had they really wanted De Gea, it would have happened long before that farcical deadline day.

There was reticence because the move to oust Navas was proving hugely unpopular with supporters.

Navas remains a Bernabeu favourite but with the team having struggled this season, there will be huge arrivals this summer, and one of them will be between the posts.

Courtois knows the league and he knows the city, and Madrid supporters now know very publicly what the club were already privately well aware of — that he's desperate to come.

Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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