Keylor Navas’ role as Real Madrid’s first-choice goalkeeper has always seemed a temporary one.
No matter how impressive he looks, it just feels like the Costa Rican is not a No.1.
The 30-year-old joined Los Blancos in 2014 in the middle of the row over whether Iker Casillas should start or not, and played second fiddle to the Real Madrid legend.
He started the subsequent season as first choice, probably against the odds, with many surprised to see him in that role.
And indeed, the Real Madrid hierarchy seemed keen to replace him – he would have joined Manchester United in a swap deal for David De Gea had it not been for that infamous fax machine incident.
Since then, it has just felt like Navas is living on borrowed time at the Bernabéu.
And his calamitous own goal against Real Betis won’t have helped his cause.
Reactions of Navas, Ramos and Bernabeu to the own goal vs Betis pic.twitter.com/jB3YcStiGr
— RMadridInfoVideo (@RMadridInfoV) March 15, 2017
It was just a horror moment, even if Navas more than made up for it with a fantastic late save to clinch the three points for Madrid.
Keylor Navas last minute save against Real Betis pic.twitter.com/EpmYouwHVB
— Real Madrid Videos (@RMadridVideos) March 14, 2017
And according to Madrid-based sports daily AS, Los Blancos are already planning their replacements for him next season.
Real Madrid’s top transfer targets for the goalkeeping spot would be Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Manchester United’s David de Gea, but with neither Antonio Conte nor José Mourinho keen to sell, Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Pérez are thought to have switched their focus to Plan B.
As Gianluigi Buffon has been getting older, the search for his heir in Italy seemed a bit worrying.
A number of potential contenders showed promise before fading away, such as Salvatore Sirigu and Mattia Perin.
But Milan’s Donnarumma seems to be the chosen one to take over from arguably the world’s best ever goalkeeper. The teenager has shown he not only has the technical characteristics to succeed Buffon, but the physical and mental prowess too.
At 6ft5ins, he is a giant in goal capable of commanding both his penalty box and his team-mates, and is a reliable handler with great agility.
For his age, he has remarkable composure and his decision making appears to be generally spot on – he is superb in one-on-one situations, and is growing more confident at building possession from the back.
His San Siro contract is up at the end of the season and agent Mino Raiola is renowned for negotiating big-money moves for his clients – Real Madrid would fit the bill.
Where many in England find it hard to believe Fulham wonderkid Ryan Sessegnon is only 16, it’s even more ridiculous that Donnarumma is only 18 with more than 60 first-team appearances to his name – he established himself as No.1 at Milan aged just 16.
Real Madrid is obviously a different kettle of fish, but if he could handle becoming first-choice at a European giant like Milan so young, you would think he would take the move in his stride – and perhaps give Los Blancos a goalkeeper for the next decade and a half.
To be honest, Leno seems a bit of a weird choice as a Plan B.
Whether he is actually better than Navas is debatable.
He was once tipped for big things and, like Donnarumma was backed to take over the mantle from his country’s long-term No.1.
But he hasn’t come anywhere near close to toppling Manuel Neuer and hasn’t really properly progressed at Leverkusen.
The 25-year-old can look world class at times, but then can fall apart at others – a bit like Navas against Real Betis.
Until you have properly honed your game, Real Madrid is a massive risk as the crowd are not afraid to get on your back, and it could well be a step too far for the German.
And indeed, if you look at the trio’s goalkeeping league statistics these season, Leno is arguably the worst performing.
He makes just 1.4 saves per goal he concedes – compared to Donnarrumma’s 3.3 and Lloris’ 2.5.
The Leverkusen has only kept four clean sheets this season too – Lloris has kept 10.
While Courtois and De Gea may have been Zidane’s first choice, Lloris came above the Manchester United man as we analysed the best goalkeepers in the Premier League for Football Whispers TV.
In fact, only Courtois beat the Frenchman, who is arguably up there with Neuer in terms of sweeper ‘keepers.
The 30-year-old has played a crucial part in moving Tottenham to contenders at the top of the Premier League, with his reassuring presence ensuring Spurs have one of the best defences in the top flight in England.
He won’t come cheap, as Real Madrid know from previous negotiations with Daniel Levy over Luka Modric and Gareth Bale.
And he’ll be even harder to get considering he signed a contract extension in December, tying him to White Hart Lane until 2022.
“I’m very pleased with this new contract,” said Lloris after putting pen to paper.
“That’s the way I show my commitment to the club, to my team-mates, to the gaffer, and to show again how much I believe in this project.
“I’m really enjoying my time at Tottenham – it’s a great feeling to be the captain too. I think I can be proud of that.
“It’s not easy for a foreigner to come to England and win the respect of your team-mates, of the fans and of the English people.
“I’m really pleased with that, but I’m still thinking that it’s not enough. I want more. Hopefully the best years are ahead.”
While that sounds like he’s committed to Tottenham, Lloris saying he wants more and what he’s done in England isn’t enough will be music to Madrid’s ears.
He’s basically saying he wants to be competing at the top level, and he definitely will be if he moves to the Spanish capital.
If Courtois and De Gea end up being out of the question, both Donnarumma and Lloris would be more than capable options for the Real Madrid goal.
The Premier League arguably has some of the best goalkeepers in the world at the moment, and Tottenham’s No.1 is up there with the very best of them.
If Los Blancos want to build a goalkeeping dynasty, they could go for Donnarumma.
When someone establishes themselves as Milan’s first choice goalkeeper as a teenager, let alone a 16-year-old, you know they are something special.
And Real Madrid are all about special players – Navas is a more than decent goalie, but neither he nor second choice Kiko Casilla have that star quality.
Whoever they buy, they are unlikely to come cheap, and it would be no surprise to see the first goalkeeping galáctico arriving at the Bernabéu this summer.