Costa Rican goalie Keylor Navas ready to excel at Real Madrid

 

By Elsa Fiona

August 11th, 2014 (ISH) Keylor Navas said it won’t be easy to become the starting goalie at Real Madrid after recently signing with the Spanish power that’s coming off a season in which it won the UEFA Champions League.

“I know I will have to work extremely hard. Real Madrid has the best players in the world in every position and they have two excellent goalkeepers,” Navas told reporters at his introductory press conference this week. “Only God knows what will happen. It is up to me to train hard every day so that I am ready if my opportunity comes around.”

Navas, 27, will look to supplant Iker Casillas, one of the greatest goalies in team history, and reserve Diego López .

“I have always looked up to Casillas and Diego López , who have shown themselves to be the best in the world over many years,” Navas told reporters. “It will be a learning curve for me every day. They are a reference for me in my career.”

Coach Carlo Ancelotti chose López to start for most of last season before going with Casillas to lead the team to Copa del Rey and Champions League tournament titles.

Navas, who arrives from Spanish side Levante, where he played since 2011, became a hot commodity after a fantastic World Cup, where he led Costa Rica to its first appearance in the quarterfinals.

Navas allowed just one goal in three Group D games. He was fantastic against Greece in the round of 16, allowing just one goal in the win before holding the Netherlands scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of extra time before the Ticos fell, 4-3, in penalty kicks.

FIFA, which is international soccer’s governing body, awarded Navas with the Golden Glove for being the best goalie at the World Cup.

“The World Cup was wonderful for me – playing against the best teams makes one improve,” Navas, a native of Pérez Zeledón, told reporters.

Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez has high expectations for Navas, who becomes the first Costa Rican to play for Real Madrid after signing a six-year deal.

“You will have the pride and the honor of being the first man from your country to play for this club,” Pérez said.

Brazil’s Robinho returns to Santos

Robinho has returned to where his professional soccer career started: Santos.

Italy’s AC Milan has loaned the forward to Santos until June 30, 2015, as Robinho will play for the squad for the third time after starting his professional career with the Sao Paulo-based club from 2002-2005 before joining Spain’s Real Madrid.

“Santos is my home,” Robinho, a 30-year-old native of São Vicente, told the team’s official website. “It’s a place in which I feel really good. I hope to repay all of the fans’ affection on the field.”

Robinho, who played for Brazil in the 2010 World Cup, played in 23 games for AC Milan in Serie A last season, but it was unclear what role he’d have this year under new Coach Pippo Inzaghi.

Robinho’s return to Santos, which entered the weekend in sixth place in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, symbolized “a moment of great happiness,” Santos President Odilio Rodrigues told reporters on Aug. 7.

“He has technical qualities that will give us a stronger, more competitive squad,” he told the team’s website.

Robinho also played for Santos for a short time during the 2010 season when he was loaned to the team from England’s Manchester City before signing with AC Milan later that year.

Radamel Falcao to remain with Monaco

Radamel Falcao won’t be heading to Real Madrid any time soon, Vadim Vasilyev, Monaco’s sporting director said.

“I have met Real officials many times, and the Falcao dossier was never discussed,” Vasilyev told the French daily L’Equipe. “We really are counting on him. I think he’s happy to come back from injury and be with his teammates.”

Falcao, a 28-year-old native of Santa Marta, returned to the field on Aug. 2 against Valencia in the first game in the Emirates Cup in London, entering as a substitute with 18 minutes remaining. The next day, he started and his header in the 37th minute was the difference in a 1-0 win over English-club and host Arsenal.

Falcao missed the World Cup after having surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee he suffered during Monaco’s 3-0 French Cup win at Chasselay Monts d’Or Azergues on Jan. 22.

 

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