Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in a training session on Thursday and is likely to miss the rest of the season.
Courtois will now undergo surgery to fix the problem. The best case scenario is to return in April next year, but there is a fear that Courtois’ season will end before it even begins.
The 31-year-old has been a permanent presence in the Real team since joining from Chelsea in 2018. He has played 230 matches for the Spanish club, winning two La Liga titles and the Champions League once.
His injury leaves Real with only Andrei Lunin as their top goalkeeper, just two days before the new season kicks off with a trip to Athletic Bilbao.
The 24-year-old Ukraine international, Lunin, played 12 games last season with Real Madrid. He has made nine La Liga appearances for the club since signing from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2018, as well as embarking on loan spells with Leganes, Real Valladolid and Real Oviedo.
Courtois’ injury will be a source of concern for Belgian coach Domenico Tedesco, before the upcoming European Summer Championships in Germany. Belgium are second in their qualifying group as is, three points behind Austria after playing one game less.
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How big is this for real?
Analysis by Tomás Hill López-Menchero
The loss of Courtois is a huge blow to Real Madrid that has the potential to change the season. The Belgian has been their undisputed number 1 since joining in 2018 and one of their best players in recent seasons – no other goalkeeper has come close to him in the current squad.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if an ACL injury forces Madrid back into the market as a top-level replacement. Lunin is Courtois’ deputy but he struggled in the few games he was called up last season, with doubts about him from within the club. Real Madrid simply won’t be able to challenge on all fronts with the Ukrainian being the first-place finisher.
Fans have been calling for a striker to replace Karim Benzema for some time, but Madrid now have an unexpected gap in the starting line-up. How it is resolved could determine the rest of their campaign.
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(Photo: Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images)
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