PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas has often been left in the role of bridesmaid despite being one of the world’s premier shot stoppers.
Real Madrid acquired Thibaut Courtois, leaving Navas in an uncomfortable spot, and PSG have recently pulled off a similar move, signing Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Navas has enjoyed a remarkably decorated career at club and international level, winning silverware at most of his stops.
Still only 34 years old, the Costa Rican has plenty more to offer at the highest level, after ranking second in Ligue 1 in post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed in 2020-21.
However you break down the stats, Navas is still one of the better players at his position in the world, even if he falls slightly short of the standards set by Courtois, Donnarumma and the elite.
With 100 Costa Rica caps to his name and a mantelpiece full of winners’ medals and individual awards, Navas can be deemed an underrated talent between the sticks.
Some were aware of his brilliance long before the big move to Real Madrid, though, with Bleacher Report asking in 2014 if Navas was the best goalkeeper in the world.
We’re going a deeper look at Navas’ career to date, his clubs before becoming PSG goalkeeper and his style of play.
Making his senior debut with Deportivo Saprissa in November 2005, Keylor Navas wasn’t first choice until his final two seasons with the club, but he was a part of a squad that enjoyed major team success.
Finishing third in the 2005 Club World Championship, Navas also collected domestic medals aplenty before waving goodbye to his home country to join Albacete in Spain’s second tier.
Initially in a backup role for the Granotes, Navas had to bide his time, only making his La Liga debut in May 2012. The club were impressed by his fleeting appearances, however, and made the move permanent in the 2012 summer transfer window.
Eventually becoming first choice in 2013-14, Navas didn’t take long to make an impression. He became the first goalkeeper to win La Liga Player of the Month, and won the best goalkeeper in the league award.
Recording the most saves and landing fourth in the Zamora Trophy despite playing for a smaller club, Navas was a standout performer, a trend he continued with a string of highlight reel performances at the 2014 World Cup for Costa Rica.
Real Madrid came calling in August 2014. Los Blancos triggered his €10 million buyout clause, and Navas penned a six-year deal at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Backing up Iker Casillas in his first season, Navas still managed to become the first Costa Rican to win CONCACAF Player of the Year in 2014.
He succeeded Casillas as number one for 2015-16, though the club tried to send him to Manchester United in a failed deal for David de Gea. Domestic and European success followed with Navas between the sticks.
His performances led to broken records (no goals conceded in his first eight Champions League appearances) and further individual accolades, with another CONCACAF Player of the Year gong in 2017.
When Courtois arrived in the summer of 2018, Navas’ tenure as number one looked to be coming to an end, but he maintained his spot for the Super Cup and the start of the La Liga season. Courtois inevitably took the first-choice spot, though, leaving Navas with just 10 appearances in the season.
September 2019 saw Navas depart Madrid for PSG. The Parisians dominance of France continued, and Navas appeared in his fourth Champions League final in just his first season at the club.
The 2020-21 campaign led to Navas’ 16th trophy in Europe. That took him past Rafael Marquez as the most successful CONCACAF player in European football.
- Saprissa (2005-2010) – 60 appearances
- Albacete (2010-2012) – 36 appearances
- Levante (2011-2014) – 70 appearances
- Real Madrid (2014-2019) – 162 appearances
- Paris Saint Germain (2019-present) – 91 appearances
Navas racked up the silverware long before becoming PSG goalkeeper.
From Saprissa to Madrid and on to Paris, he has enjoyed unparalleled success in Europe for a CONCACAF player and is unquestionably one of the greatest Costa Rican footballers of all-time.
Amassing winners’ medals can be about being in the right place at the right time. That’s been the case for some of Navas’ honours, but for the most part, he has been an integral member of these winning teams, as illustrated by his individual accolades.
- Primera Division de Costa Rica – 2005-06, 2006-07, Invierno 2007, Verano 2008, Invierno 2008, Verano 2010
- CONCACAF Champions’ Cup – 2005
- La Liga – 2016-17
- Champions League – 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18
- Super Cup – 2014, 2016, 2017
- Club World Cup – 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
- Ligue 1 – 2019-20
- Coupe de France – 2019-20, 2020-21
- Gold Cup Best Goalkeeper – 2009
- LFP Awards Best Goalkeeper – 2013-14
- ESM Team of the Year – 2015-16
- CONCACAF Men’s Player of the Year – 2014, 2017
- CONCACAF Best XI – 2016, 2017, 2018
- IFFHS CONCACAF Team of the Decades – 2010s
- Ligue 1 Team of the Year – 2020-21
Navas Style of Play
Razor-sharp reflexes and supreme athleticism are Navas’ star qualities between the sticks. Those characteristics make the Costa Rican capable of jaw-dropping saves.
Speed and athleticism help Navas compensate for standing at just 6’1. While relatively short for a goalkeeper, there’s no question that he’s a commanding presence at the back, and he’s shown a penchant for delivering in the biggest matches.
While using his feet to build play from the back wasn’t a feature early in his career, Navas has developed his game in recent years. A comfortable sweeper keeper, he has shown a skill for passing out from defence and building attacks.