For all the goals making the headlines at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there have also been some outstanding performances from goalkeepers of varying countries just as worthy as making both the front and back pages.
So good have the likes of Guillermo Ochoa, Keylor Navas and Tim Howard been over in South America that their current clubs now face the unenviable task of maintaining their services. With every save, and every commanding performance, their stock in the footballing world increases.
And while more established names in the form of Iker Casillas of Spain, Joe Hart of England and Gianluigi Buffon of Italy have toiled in the sweltering samba heat, the tournament has been used as a platform for goalkeepers to showcase their talents and alert any possible suitors.
Ochoa was exceptional in Mexico’s 0-0 draw against hosts Brazil, nullifying every attack and keeping golden boy Neymar and his team-mates at bay. Years of being touted as one of the most promising goalkeepers on the planet now look justified.
So popular is his profile at French club AC Ajaccio that one fan, sensing the danger, has put his house up for sale so as to raise funds for a new contract. Yet with talk of a move to Premier League club Liverpool encircling, it may be a decision made in vain.
According to reports in Spain, Levante have already resigned themselves to losing Navas after his impressive performances for Costa Rica this summer.
Atletico Madrid are in the market for a new goalkeeper after Jose Mourinho made clear that Thibaut Courtois would not be returning to the Vicente Calderon, but have been told by the fellow La Liga side to raise their bid or face missing out.
Navas currently has a €10million release clause in his contract, but it remains to be seen if manager Diego Simeone returns with a fresh bid.
Howard’s future in the Premier League and Everton looks the most certain of the lot, but that did not stop speculation on social network sites that his old club Manchester United would swoop for his services.
The American made a new tournament record of 15 saves as the United States of America lost 2-1 to Marc Wilmot’s Belgium, and enjoyed three years at Old Trafford prior to leaving for Goodison Park.
Louis van Gaal may be forced to delve into the transfer market for a goalkeeper if Anders Lindegaard seeks more playing time elsewhere, but forcing Howard to accept a deal where he play second fiddle to David De Gea is extremely unlikely.
Whatever happens, all three goalkeepers have been exceptional. And if the big boys come calling, it could prove difficult to say no.
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