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Player Focus: Keylor Navas - La Liga's Unlikely Star

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Player Focus: Keylor Navas - La Liga's Unlikely Star

 

Levante possessing a star, however unlikely a source it may be, doesn't seem to fit the bill. Since their return to La Liga it's been all about the team, the unit, and sacrifice. Keylor Navas has taken that to another level, sacrificing himself on a weekly basis for the team.
 
The Costa Rican goalkeeper has become a symbol of this current La Liga campaign in general, let alone just Levante, rising from being a virtual unknown to become a hero for his side. This is a goalkeeper outshining the very best in Spain - a country that is certainly not short on goalkeeping talent. A WhoScored rating of 7.21 makes Navas the highest rated goalkeeper in La Liga, and it’s not difficult to see why.
 
This past weekend he was at it again, producing another stunning solo show to keep another clean sheet – his 9th overall – with only Thibaut Courtois and Victor Valdés achieving more. It’s not just La Liga he’s lighting up though, as his talents have seen his numbers impress all across Europe. WhoScored’s rating system has only Vito Mannone higher in terms of goalkeepers, as Navas this past weekend leapfrogged the highly rated Marc-André ter Stegen into 2nd place.
 
It was the latest in a string of sensational performances. He won his team a precious point against Barcelona, before going one further by keeping Sevilla’s attack at bay and making sure his team gained all three. The latter was a game Sevilla should’ve been leading 4 or 5-0.
 
They knew Navas would be a factor, but perhaps not to this degree. The highlight being a stunning save from Ivan Rakitic’s header, and it prompted a poignant comment from one local journalist in Valencia; “If that Navas save from Rakitic had been from López, Iker [Casillas] or Valdés it would be replayed on TV 100 times before tomorrow morning”. Rakitic's header was arrowing towards the bottom corner but the outstretched fingers of Navas propelled it off the line. The Croatian's face, as Antoine Griezmann's did this past weekend, resembled someone encountering the paranormal.
 
Navas' 7 saves in the game against Real Sociedad went some way to achieving another unlikely point. It took his number of saves to 98 for the season, with that total now the most in La Liga. What’s more, 53 of them have come from shots from inside the box – only Willy Caballero, with 55, has made more in this area. “You couldn’t let us have a goal, you son of a bitch” one Real Sociedad player joked with Navas post-game, who smiled and walked away.
 
Navas hasn’t had enough though, and is already setting his sights on another victim. On the plane back from San Sebastian after another successful night between the sticks, the goalkeeper was sat with an iPad in his lap and various presentations on PowerPoint prepared by Levante’s coaching staff. He’s usually handed 7 or 8 videos of the opponents most dangerous players a week before the game, focusing on their shot technique and how they move in the penalty area. The studying is providing Navas with top marks, as only 6 teams have conceded fewer goals than Levante.

 

Player Focus: Keylor Navas - La Liga's Unlikely Star

 
Luis Llopis is the man who works with Navas the most, as Levante’s goalkeeping coach; “Keylor is difficult to beat from distance, and is incredible in reaction shots. His speed allows him to achieve double saves, and move around the goal swiftly”, he said to El País. It makes him ideal for a Joaquín Caparrós team as history shows they usually defend in an extremely deep block. WhoScored backs up that notion too, with 50% of Levante’s opponents’ shots coming from inside of the box.
 
Goalkeepers are often seen as interesting, off-beat characters and Navas doesn't buck that trend. He’s a deeply personal, introvert character who counts his family and religion alongside goalkeeping as his main passions. Asked post-la Real game if he’d be celebrating with a glass of wine, the calm Navas replied, “It’ll be unlikely”. Before every game Navas is seen dropping to his knees, spreading his arms, and praying while looking to the sky. This season, however, his opponents have perhaps been the ones requiring their own divine intervention to beat the 27-year-old.
 
Interest is now growing in the Costa Rican by the day, with Atlético Madrid being touted as the main suitors. With Courtois probably experiencing his final season with the club it makes perfect sense to eye up such an influential replacement. Navas, who nearly moved to Fulham in 2011, still has improvements to make. With just 15 good high claims he’s relatively weak in the air, the 11th overall in La Liga in fact, and if he was to replace such an immense figure like Courtois it will be an area to build upon. The Belgian, with 37 good high claims, has at least 9 more than anyone else in La Liga.
 
The positives do outweigh the negatives though, for a player who will see his current deal expire in 2015 and has a release clause of €10m. Just look at his save success rate for instance. A 73.1% average is the fourth best in La Liga behind Valdés, Courtois and Roberto – but the caveat to that is Levante are conceding more shots than them all. The 17.7 shots conceded per game by Caparrós’ side is the most in La Liga, handing Navas a far heavier workload than his counterparts between the sticks.
 
Not that Navas will mind though - idle hands are the devils work after all. The man who is leaving opposition attackers without a prayer wants to keep on saving his team again and again. Just don't expect a bottle of wine to be uncorked in celebration, it will more likely be another file on his opponents opened up.


Could Navas be an adequate replacement for Courtois this summer? Let us know in the comments below

Comments (6)

 
  • Can definitely see him replacing Courtois at Atletico over the summer. Great goalkeeper

  • Zubigarai is average. Casilla , Valdes , Marino are better than him

  • He and zubigarai are extremely good

  • Keylor has won many hearts with his ground-breaking performance week-in & out. Glad to see him get some recognition he deserves ! Welldone whoscored & david. As of now Sevilla are fav to get him but i dont think he would turn down the oppurtinity to play CL with Atleti. Arguably best keeper in liga this season

  • Levante would have been juxtaposed alongside Rayo for 'worst defense' tag if it wasnt for Navas Heroics. The way he has conspicuously surfaced himself amongst the Courtois , Valdes , Casilla(espanyol) & Diego Lopez as La Liga's best this season has earned him reverance amongst ingenious footy fans. Yes he was the one who conceded 7 goals in first league game vs barca , the way he has redeemed himself is alluring & endearing. Its no epiphany that he rightly deserves any top club he will be joining soon. Stay Strong Navas , eloquent read David.

  • This guy defines the word 'beast' . I'm glued to Levante's matches just because of his remarkable performances and he never dissapoints. Being an ardent lga follower i can easily claim he is best bar none in la liga ! That being said with experience behind him i can audaciously claim he would be as effective as courtois is for Atletico. I'm anxious to see him perform with Costa Rica in Brazil as well. Sevilla are weighing up 10 M + Javi Varas , so Atelti would have to do better if they want Levante to have their attention.. Riveting article Mr.Cartlidge. Keep it up

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Analysis Queens Park Rangers Walter Samuel Christian Chivu AS Roma Stephen Warnock Martin Kelly Gary Caldwell Karl Henry Kevin Doyle England National Football Team Charlie Adam Javi Venta Vicente Iborra Sergio Ballesteros Bobby Zamora Jonas Gutierrez Dariusz Dudka Youssouf Hadji Christian Abbiati Alvaro Dominguez Phil Neville Senad Lulic Filip Daems Ezequiel Schelotto Victor Ruiz Jonathan Pereira Anthony Reveillere Santiago Gentiletti Cheikh Diabate Nicolas Spolli Luciano Fabian Monzon Mauricio Isla Ignazio Abate Titus Bramble Ritchie De Laet Leroy Lita Christian Lell Philipp Wollscheid Milivoje Novakovic Tottenhman Hotspur Johan Cavalli Eliseu Serdar Tasci Ryan Babel Aleksandar Ignjovski Chechu Dorado Djamel Mesbah Arsenal Swansea Ashely Williams Piscu Eden Dzeko Emmerson Boyce Auxerre Phil Bardsley Jose Bosingwa Gretar Steinsson Mattia Cassani Jonathan Woodgate Germany National Football Team Gasperini Mauro Zarate Diego Forlan Estaban Cambiasso Juraj Kucka Marco Faraoni Joel Obi Benedikt Howedes Clemens Fritz Chris Lowe Daniel van Buyten Albania Yann M’Vila Baptiste Reynet Angelo Palombo Eric Tie Bi Faouzi Ghoulam Chris Mavinga Anderson Aaron Hughes Chris Baird Raul Aly Cissokho Alessandro Del Piero Samir Handanovic France National Football Team Marc Tierney Bundelsiga Raul Bobadilla Michael Dawson Loric Remy Jean Pascal Mignot Mainz 05 Schalke 04 Marcel Risse Steven Reid Danny Gabbidon Michal Kadlec Paulo Machado Ben Watson Spain National Football Team German National Football Team Bundeslgia Ricardo Carvalho Ivan Ramis Diego Colotto Sergio Fernandez Sere A Cesare Bovo Miguel Britos Bostjan Cesar Jose Angel Gabriel Heinze Chris Samba Charles N'Zogbia Yohan Demont Rod Fanni Rudy Mater Georgios Tzavellas Javier Pinola Dennis Aogo Daniel Schwaab Attacking Full-Backs Defensive Wingers 2010/11 Attacking Wingers Nicolas Douchez Jeremy Menez Under-21 Team of Season 2010-11 Maxi Rodriguez Scott Dann Crossing Wingers Under-21 Team of Season All-Round Midfielders Benoit Pedretti Rising Stars Kyle Walker Gaetano D'Agostino Centre Backs Paulo Da Silva Ivan Hernandez Eric Abidal Weligton Borja Ekiza Alassane Toure Stephane Grichting Jordan Loties Kader Mangane Adama Coulibaly Martin Stranzl Pedro Geromel Neven Subotic Christian Zapata James Tomkins Roger Johnson Stephan Lichsteiner Reto Ziegler David Vaughan Seb Larsson Asamoah Gyan Benoit Pedretti Anthony Mounier Mehmet Ekici Simao Duda Alvaro Cejudo Xabi Prieto Alexsandar Kolarov Guiseppe Mascara Simone Bentivoglio Fernando Marques Gian Piero Gasperin Thomas Hitzlsperger Rafael Van der Vaart Theofanis Gekas Gerard Asamoah Youssef Al Arabi Lisandro Loric Remy Victor Hugo Montano Edison Cavani Sergio Pellissier David Di Michele Steward Downing Spain Under 21 Felipe Caicedo Pierre Webo Youssef El-Arabi Brown Ideye Mobido Maiga Chu-Young Robin Van Persie Kevin Gamerio England U21 Udinese. Alexis Sanchez Pedro Sami Allagui Frédéric Kanouté Renato Augusto Jonathan Pitropia Eljero Elia Ivo Llicevic Fernando Muslera Diego Perez Alvaro González Abel Hernandez David VIlla Marcel Schmelzer Danijel Pranjic Holger Badstuber Sven Bender Johan Djourou Darren Fletcher Carlos Kameni Thiago Silve Antonia Di Natale Cristiano Zapata Domenico Criscito Luis Jimenez Josep Ilicic Samuel Eto’o Alexis Thébaux Ludovic Sané Mamouda Sakho Boukary Dramé Daniel Alves Nikolay Mihaylov Charles Puyol Ji-Sung Park Edwin van der Sar Dani Alves John O’Shea Park Ji-Jung Gabi Fernandez Jonathan de Guzman Michael Owen Gary Taylor-Fletcher Ian Evatt DJ Campbell Charles N’Zogbia Wolverhampton Robinho Rudi Garcia Avram Grant Conor Sammon Wayne Bridge Rob Green Victor Obinna Mike Hanke Borussia Munchengladbach VfL Bochum Tomasz Kuszczak Martin Olsson Brett Emerton Steven N’Zonzi Muset Ozil Gianpaolo Pazzini Leonardo Seydou Keita Miguel Pallardo Ibrahim Afellay Valdo Pallardo Damien Perquis Luka Modrid David SIlva Roberto Mancini Benoit Assou-Ekotto Vedran Corluka Carlo Ancelotti Saloman Kalou Clarence Seedorf Matteo Brighi Fabio Simplicio Rodrigo Taddei Mark Van Bommel Gennaro Gattuso Kevin Prince-Boateng Nicolas Burdisso Elkin Soto Pep Gaurdiola Lassana Diarra Lucas Barrios Antonio da Silva Robert Mak Heurelho Gomes Andre Marriner Pinto Alavro Arbeloa Alexander Hleb

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