On paper at least The new process of the Chilean national team begins with many unknowns. However, for one player in particular it will be the return of old acquaintances. Claudio Bravo, once postponed by former coach Reinaldo Rueda, It will arrive in March in an almost familiar atmosphere. A succession of events that brought many of his former collaborators to La Roja, a scenario that clearly today gives him an advantage over the rest of his colleagues.
On February 9, three days after Matías Almeyda stepped down as coach of the national team, Claudio Bravo reacted to the vacancy of the position. In clear terms and with the same security that the Chilean bow takes care of, the former captain played down fatalism. “I am not worried, nor less upset. Less in these times (…) The best possible if you have to be on a future payroll. The goal is Qatar 2022 ”, he said on his social networks.
The message appeared a day before the ANFP confirmed the new coach of the national team. Martín Lasarte has known the goalkeeper for more than 10 years, whom he directed at Real Sociedad between 2009 and 2011, a period in which they achieved promotion to the highest category. They both cultivated a mature professional relationship. “Maybe they weren’t the closest of friends, but they both respected each other a lot,” says a close friend of the player. Respect reached so much that when Juan Carlos Unzué – at that time Barcelona goalkeeper coach – traveled to San Sebastián to see the Chilean in 2010, Machete did not hesitate to recommend him for the Catalan team.
A situation that only crystallized in 2014, when Luis Enrique took over the bench of the Blaugrana team with Unzué himself in the coaching staff, of course this time as a field assistant.
But Lasarte’s is not the only line that can be extended to the goalkeeper. In 2011, in the middle of the Copa América in Argentina, the news of Arsenal’s interest in having the Chilean goal emerged. At that time, the plenipotentiary of the observers of the London team was Francis Cagigao, the same one who today serves as sports director of national teams.
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“He has many conditions, we know him a lot. A modern goalkeeper who could play in any team ”, said the Galician scout, consulted by La Tercera. Already at that time, Cagigao and the historic representative of Bravo, the lawyer Cristián Ogalde, had made contact with the goal, although there were no signs of a possible transfer of the one from Viluco to London. A communication that became more fluid in 2017, when the same footballer businessman (today the president of Deportes Santa Cruz) and Cagigao agreed to give a test to Marcelo Allende at the club gunner.
Of course, this puzzle is missing a piece. Perhaps the most important, the one that confirms the comfort that Bravo could have in this new process. Because the presence of Roberto Navajas as a new goalkeeper coach only satisfies an old demand. The problem dragged on from before. When Juan Antonio Pizzi took command of La Roja in 2016, the position of goalkeeping coach was vacant. Macanudo, as soon as he took office as DT, traveled to Spain to speak with Bravo and he advised Navajas, whom he had at Real Sociedad.
If even the Spaniard himself would later recognize that his former pupil always wanted him in the organization chart of La Roja. But the talks never went well. The request was never heard by the federation then headed by Arturo Salah. Less when he proposed his Plan B, the Chilean Julio Rodríguez.
One of the reasons that even led the goal to kick the board and resign from La Roja, in April 2018, after ignoring the incumbents in office: Alex Whiteley and Marcelo Ovalle. He also ordered the latter to lose weight. In the current scenario, the arrival of Navajas suggests a wish fulfilled for Viluco’s, who in any case will return to a Red made to suit him, from the head.