Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal has singled out teammate Andriy Lunin for praise following his recent performances, and highlighted that he has stepped up to the plate when called upon.
Kepa Arrizabalaga was signed from Chelsea on loan to cover for the injury to Thibaut Courtois in August, but after the Spanish international suffered a calf strain earlier this month, Lunin was called upon against Braga, Valencia and Cadiz on Sunday night. It looks as if he will be in goal against Napoli on Wednesday night too.
Despite good performances, making key saves and a penalty stop, manager Carlo Ancelotti told the press at the weekend that Kepa would be back in goal when he was fit. Carvajal was full of praise for the Ukrainian.
“He is a tremendous professional. He is a fairly introverted boy, but I want to congratulate him because he has always been up to the task, he has helped us a lot. Every time he has played he has done very well. Whoever plays is a decision of the coach”.
“Rodrygo knows that this is Madrid, that after 3 games without scoring, criticism rains down on you. I am glad that the pressure of scoring goals has been taken off. When he is on a streak and starts scoring, the team notices it. I hope the streak lasts longer because he gives us… pic.twitter.com/DPshaeftMA
— Football España (@footballespana_) November 28, 2023
Ancelotti was also asked about his morale, given the fact Kepa is likely to return no matter how he plays. The Italian eased off his words, and mentioned competition.
“He is not going to think that tomorrow is the last game. The day Kepa returns he will compete with Lunin. This is what Lunin has earned by playing very well. The competition is good. We have two high-level goalkeepers. Each one can contribute with its qualities.”
It had been reported in the aftermath of the Cadiz match that the Real Madrid dressing room were not satisfied with how Ancelotti has treated Lunin. For some time Ancelotti has been keen to get a replacement for Lunin, and it may well be that he gets his way with Kepa next summer. Either way, Ancelotti read between the lines and has decided to prioritise the dressing room atmosphere in this case.