Ancelotti backs Lunin as Madrid's starting goalie even if newcomer arrives after Courtois' injury

AP , Friday 11 Aug 2023

Real Madrid may consider signing a new goalkeeper after the serious injury suffered by Thibaut Courtois, but coach Carlo Ancelotti says his starter heading into the new season will be the little used Andriy Lunin.

Andriy Lunin
Real Madrid s goalkeeper warms up prior La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in Madrid, Spain, Oct. 16, 2022. AP


The 24-year-old Lunin is entering his fourth season for Madrid and was again expected to be rarely used as a replacement for Courtois in case of injury. Now, the Ukrainian goalie is positioned to be a key player for the 14-time European Cup winner.

“We have to wish Courtois a quick recovery and place all our confidence in Lunin,” Ancelotti said on Friday, a day before Madrid kicks off its season with a Spanish league game at Athletic Bilbao.

Madrid has until the summer transfer window closes at the end of the month to possibly bring in a new goalkeeper, but Ancelotti said any newcomer would arrive as a backup to Lunin. As of now, Ancelotti said that Lunin’s backup is 17-year-old Fran González, a youth team player.

Courtois tore a ligament in his left knee on Thursday and will undergo surgery, meaning that the Belgium international will be sidelined for several months.

Last season, Lunin started 12 games, mostly during a stretch while Courtois was out with a back issue. In those games he conceded 13 goals and kept four clean sheets. Madrid signed Lunin from Ukrainian club Zorya Lugansk in 2018. He then played on loan at smaller Spanish clubs Leganés, Oviedo and Valladolid before joining Madrid’s squad.

Lunin will have big boots to fill. Courtois was a key player in helping Madrid win a Champions League, two Spanish leagues and a Copa del Rey thanks to his ability to make high-pressure saves.

“We have complete faith in (Lunin),” Ancelotti said. “We think he is a talent and that the only thing he is lacking is experience. Now he will get that experience day by day, game by game.”

Spanish media speculated that Madrid could consider signing Sevilla’s Yassine Bounou, Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga or former Manchester United player David de Gea.

When asked what qualities he could seek in a new goalkeeper, Ancelotti said in his typical laconic fashion: “That he can stop the ball with his hands.”

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