- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

MADRID (AP) - Real Madrid might consider itself lucky the plan to trade goalkeeper Keylor Navas and cash for David de Gea never materialized.

Aside from the embarrassment of not being able to finalize a transfer that was considered done, Madrid is doing just fine with Navas in goal.

Three weeks after the transfer debacle, there is no reason to think the Spanish giants would be better off with De Gea as its starter.

For the first time in its 113-year history, Madrid hasn’t conceded a goal in its first five matches of the season, and Navas is a big reason for the success of the team’s defense so far.

Fans are more than happy with the goalkeeper, loudly chanting his name after every great save made by the Costa Rican at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

Navas, who never hid his desire to stay in Madrid, is thrilled with how it all turned out.

“Things are going well,” Navas said. “I’m extremely happy that people rate my work highly and it’s a great source of pride to be at this club. As a boy I dreamed about being here and it fills you with satisfaction to be part of Real Madrid history. The hard work has been worth it and this is the path that will take us to greater things.”

The 28-year-old Navas has had some outstanding performances since the transfer with Manchester United fell through, making several big saves to help keep alive Madrid’s streak of clean sheets. In the team’s home opener against Real Betis, he came through by stopping a penalty in the second half, delighting the home crowd.

“We all want to keep clean sheets and we’ve managed to do so over the last few games,” Navas said. “So we’re satisfied as a result.”

Madrid pursued De Gea throughout the summer, and club officials publicly expressed their desire to bring the United goalkeeper back to his hometown. Negotiations dragged on for weeks, and Navas was included in the deal as a way to help push it through - but the whole thing fell apart when Madrid failed to get all the paperwork in to FIFA on time.

“It was a difficult situation, but it’s over now and I’m living in the present,” said Navas, who was signed by Madrid after the 2014 World Cup and has become the No. 1 after the departure of longtime captain Iker Casillas. “I’m here, with Real Madrid, the manager has faith in me, I’m enjoying my football and I have to try and reach my full potential.”

Madrid and United were the object of mockery by football fans worldwide after the deadline day debacle, but both sides might be happy with the end result. De Gea signed a four-year contract extension with United and since then has been playing well with the English club. He was key in the team’s 3-2 win over Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday, making two great saves to help his team reach second place in the standings, two points behind Manchester City.

Navas also did well in Madrid’s 1-0 win over Granada on Saturday, helping his team sit second in the Spanish league after four rounds, two points behind Barcelona.

Madrid and United still blame each other for the failed trade, and it remains unclear who was actually at fault. But after seeing how things turned out, they both might consider the non-deal a success.


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni

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