Real Madrid rocked by injury to goalkeeper Courtois
Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois

MADRID, Spain (AFP)— Real Madrid suffered a huge blow on the eve of the new La Liga season with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during training on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Belgium international faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines and will undergo surgery in the coming days, his club said.

"Following tests carried out on Thibaut Courtois, he has been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee," Madrid said in a statement.

The club did not specify how long Courtois will be out but reports in Spain suggest he will miss most of the season, if not all of it.

Courtois suffered the injury during a morning training session and left in tears, according to Cadena Cope radio.

He will be replaced in the team by Ukraine's Andriy Lunin, with Madrid due to play Athletic Bilbao on Saturday in their first game of the season.

Courtois joined Madrid from Chelsea after the 2018 World Cup, helping the club to a pair of La Liga crowns and the 2021-22 Champions League title.

The injury leaves coach Carlo Ancelotti now without two of his most reliable performers in recent times following the departure of Karim Benzema, the reigning Ballon d'Or, to Saudi Arabia.

Courtois won the Yashin trophy last year awarded to the world's best goalkeeper.

His understudy at Madrid, the 24-year-old Lunin has played 17 times for the club since arriving the same summer as Courtois.

Belgium will also be sweating over his fitness for Euro 2024.

Courtois has 102 caps for his country but refused to make the trip to Estonia for a Euro qualifier in June after being overlooked for the stand-in captaincy.

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