It is now very much a universal fact that Thibaut Courtois is struggling at Real Madrid. His struggles have been tangible. But reports have also highlighted his struggled off the pitch. There were reports claiming his struggles with mental health- something Real were quick to play down.

Clearly though, something is wrong. Courtois was at fault for Real Mallorca’s goal this past weekend, leading to familiar levels of criticism. The Belgian has looked short of confidence ever since he joined from Chelsea last summer. Getting abuse on a regular basis from fans can have harmful effects on any footballer too.

It has been over a season. But nothing much has changed for Courtois. Signs of improvement have been as rare as spotting a sea monster in the Pacific Ocean. His performance against Galatasaray was probably that sea monster.

For a club like the Los Blancos, instant success is often the priority. They always want the best players on the planet. Their signature of Eden Hazard and the pursuits of Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen show that. They want the best young players too. The signing of Luka Jovic, Ferland Mendy and Eder Militao is the big sign.

The club is clearly looking for a generational change. The way their summer transfer window went was a big hint of that. Courtois was supposed to be part of that change. A season after his signature, Keylor Navas was shipped off to Paris Saint-Germain. This meant that Courtois was being trusted with the job of being the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.

But despite all the faith and trust that has placed in him, Courtois continues to fail. And during the ongoing generational change, it could already be time to replace him. Considering that they shelled out only 35 million euros on the Belgian, selling him won’t present too huge a financial loss.

Florentino Perez should look no further than Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma if he does look to replace Courtois.

Still just 20, it is easy to forget how young the Italian is. Represented by the infamous Mino Raiola, Donnarumma has previously been linked with a move to Real too. This past summer, Paris Saint-Germain wanted Donnarumma. But a deal failed to materialise. This does say a lot about how much value the youngster carries.

At such a tender age, Gigio has already played 171 times for the Rossoneri (via Transfermarkt). He has let in 176 goals, keeping as many as 61 clean-sheets.

It will be unfair to compare Donnarumma and Courtois by using stats from the Belgian’s previous season. But it will be a fairer comparison if we compare Donnarumma’s last season to Courtois’ last at Chelsea.

Milan finished fifth in the Serie A last season, just like how Chelsea finished fifth in the Premier League in the 2017-18 season under Antonio Conte.

Last season, Donnarumma kept 13 clean sheets and let in 31 goals in total. Courtois kept 15 clean sheets, but let in 15 goals. On an aggregate, that is quite the same. Neither Chelsea or Milan were immense defensively either.

On paper, both are goalkeepers of just about a similar level. But Donnarumma can be prone to immature errors- like the one he committed against Sampdoria in the second half of last season. But Whoscored named Donnarumma Man of the Match as many as four times- the second-highest for the club last season.

Courtois is just slightly taller than Donnarumma, but both have a similar ability on the ball. Comparing both during the same seasons as mentioned above, both had a passing accuracy of 70 percent. But Courtois played just 2 more passes per game than Donnarumma (via Whoscored).

At Chelsea, Courtois showed that he was one of the best goalkeepers in the world. His reflexes were the biggest reason for that. Donnarumma does close to matching those reflexes, but it is worth remembering that he is still only 20. He has so much to improve on and get better in.

Donnarumma’s current deal at the San Siro runs out in the summer of 2021. Reports have already stated that he has turned down a new deal worth 6 million euros a season. Milan are in a tough situation financially and it seems close to impossible that they offer anything around 10 million euros a season.

Donnarumma cost them nothing and anything around 50-60 million euros would present a huge financial profit. It will boost their finances and Alessandro Plizzari is already in the Donnarumma mould. Real Madrid should already be attentive.

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Kaustubh Pandey