Real Madrid was dealt a major blow on Thursday when goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois tore a ligament in his left knee, just two days before the team’s first game of the season.

The club said its star goalkeeper will require surgery, meaning that he will likely be out for a large part of the campaign. Local media reported that the injury occurred during training.

The injury comes after an offseason that featured the exit of striker Karim Benzema, with the club having yet to sign a replacement.

The 31-year-old Courtois has been a pillar of Madrid’s success since he arrived from Chelsea in 2018. His saves provided the perfect counterpoint to Benzema’s goals. The Belgium international helped Madrid win the Champions League in 2022, Spanish league titles in 2020 and 2022, and last season’s Copa del Rey.

Previously, Courtois helped Chelsea win two Premier League titles and an FA Cup. Before his stint in London, he played for Real Madrid’s rival, Atletico Madrid, helping it win the Spanish league and Europa League.

Madrid opens the season on Saturday at Athletic Bilbao, when rarely used backup Andriy Lunin, a Ukrainian player, looks set to take Courtois’ place.

Reporting by The Associated Press. 

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