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Real Madrid new signing: Areola analysis

The Real Madrid goal remains a mystery despite the League is already on. The arrival of the French goalkeeper Areola appears to be imminent and it seems that Courtois can finally rest easy. But, will it really be like that? What kind of goalkeeper is Areola? What’s his main skill as a goalkeeper? How does he train as a goalie?

After the transfer of Keylor Navas to PSG last September 2nd and the Areola’s signing for the Whites, Zizou will be able to clear up all the questions from now on. The goal has been a huge headache for Zidane and has created a lot of talk lately in Real Madrid. Areola is starting his training today, September 11th for the first time in Valdebebas with his new team, and the roles of both goalkeepers will be getting defined little by little. Everything suggests that he will be the substitute for Courtois.

After the French goalie’s arrival, will Zidane start to rest easy? Or will Areola make things difficult for the French coach? Undoubtedly, Courtois is the most relieved one. The watchful shadow of the three times Champions’ goalie does not haunt him anymore. Oddly enough Areola will wear #1 on his back, because it was free, and Courtois cannot change his own due to the fact he made his debut with number 13 in the League.

From four goalkeepers to only two?

Real Madrid recruited four goalkeepers for season 2018-19 (Courtois, Keylor, Kiko Casilla and Luca Zidane). This means a sea change for the goalkeeper’s position this season because Real Madrid usually recruits just a third goalkeeper, a necessary piece if we take into account the great number of matches and the possible injuries. Let’s remember that Lunin went out on a season loan, and even though in theory Altube (Castilla’s first goalie) and Belman have trained with Zidane, Real Madrid has already registered the maximum number of squad players allowed (25).

But, what kind of goalkeeper is Areola for Real Madrid to notice him?  What would a goalkeeping coach see in this French goalie? What’s so special?


Nowadays this data is more valuable in football for sports managers than for goalkeeping coaches:

  • Age: 26 years old. The perfect age for a football goalkeeper, especially if we are talking about an investment. As a general rule, it is said that goalkeepers reach their best level of competitive maturity between ages 26 and 30, and also their best physical condition. These investments are very attractive because they can promote a very good return in Europe: goalkeepers that sign at those ages, have from 2 to three good years in the Club, and after that they are transferred for the same value or even more.
  • 1’95 centimetres. Like it or not, a very tall goalkeeper is the trend Europe is setting for the goals, looking for young goalkeepers with heights ranking from 1’86 to 1’98 cm. Watch out the growth of Italian football next years and the trend of the kind of goalkeepers that they are setting!


We could catalogue this goalkeeper as a goal-man, mainly. And we love it! He’s a goalkeeper that knows how to interpret the game and positioning properly depending on the many stimuli the play offers. We highlight a very special profile of his game:

  • The right interpretation between the 1×1 and the short distance shot

If you look the video closely, he performs in many actions like that, and in most of them, regardless of the result, he interprets properly. Let’s stop here and explain this point clearly: what’s the difference between solving properly and interpreting properly?

  • Solving properly does not necessarily mean interpreting right. A goalkeeper can come off to the penalty area to risk a 1×1 and solve it successfully. That said, would this situation have been properly interpreted if he had had the assistance of two centre-backs? Would it have been properly interpreted if he had taken excessive risks coming off after that ball before the poor benefit he could get?
  • Success is not always the result of a proper interpretation. Football is a team and opposition sport where the rival is also playing, and it is successful too. One thing is certain, if we get that all our goalkeepers interpret the different phases of the play properly, they will achieve more successes than failures.

If I might return to Areola and to conclude this article, I leave you with one last thought: have you noticed his ability to not loose the reference from the goal? This so valued skill in a goalkeeper along with his proper body balance despite his height when performing footwork, is what makes this goalkeeper so well-positioned most of the times.

Vision of game = ability to perceive stimuli (player with the ball, player and his playing options, teammates and opponents’ situation…) + ability to interpret (short distance shot, long distance shot, cross-shot, play out from the back…) + (technical) execution.

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