Eight weeks have passed since the deadline-day collapse of David de Gea’s transfer from Real Madrid to Manchester United.
At the time, both clubs looked stupid, especially when the Spanish side embarked on a face-saving, mud-slinging mission attempting to establish the English team’s responsibility for the breakdown but, two months on, neither are likely to have any regrets.
The 20-time Premier League champions reintegrated their player of the year immediately and managed to convince him to sign a four-year contract that seemed unthinkable all summer long. They have won six and lost just two of the 10 matches that the Spanish shot-stopper has started since, keeping four clean sheets in the latest seven.
Additionally, the gap in quality between him and understudy Sergio Romero was exposed in the latter’s first appearance since the De Gea U-turn against Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup as he almost scored an embarrassing own goal and was unable to save a penalty in their shootout loss.
For Real Madrid, the failure to sign the 24-year-old coupled by the departure of captain Iker Casillas to Porto meant an overdue opportunity for Keylor Navas to shine, having signed in 2014 after an exceptional campaign for Levante and an inspirational World Cup with overachievers Costa Rica.
The pursuit of De Gea was already looking dubious by late August as Navas – who would have been traded to Old Trafford in any deal – had won new coach Rafael Benitez’s admiration in pre-season and opened 2015/16 with two shutouts.
His form hasn’t dropped off since the farce at the close of the transfer window either, with a further seven clean sheets being obtained. In total, he has played a dozen games for Real Madrid this term and conceded only three goals as the 10-time Champions League winners have gone unbeaten.
As a result, he has earned the nickname “Keylor Paras” from teammates, with the latter the Spanish equivalent for saves.
Both teams are in title contention, with Man Utd an enticing 11/2 to top the Premier League despite remaining two points off the pace in this period of transition and Real Madrid level with Barcelona in first place and 11/10 to reclaim La Liga.
A double on the two European giants both being delighted come May pays out at odds bigger than 12/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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