So much has been said about the future of Real Madrid’s Spanish stopper Iker Casillas. The Spanish legend had his somewhat invincibility demystified by erstwhile Los Blancos boss Jose Mourinho who under the pretext of an injury to him brought in former Valencia goalkeeper Diego Lopez only for him to settle for the new goalkeeper even after Casillas regained fitness.
The controversy raged on while Mourinho’s stay at the Bernabeu lasted but after he left, new boss Carlos Ancelotti towed his path, preferring Lopez still to Casillas in some of the competitions. Lopez got the nod for games in the LA Liga while Casillas got the nod for the Champions League and Copa Del Rey last season. Should we call it coincidence but Real Madrid ended up winning the two competitions Casillas was in goal while they ended up finishing third in the La Liga.
In the summer, Real Madrid rang changes to their goalkeeping department by selling off Lopez to Ac Milan and bringing in Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas. With Navas in the fray at Real Madrid, it stands to be seen what becomes the fate of their legend.
Should Casillas decide to leave Real Madrid, a move to the Premier League has been mooted. Arsenal have been credited with an interest in the past but I doubt if that would happen again. Just like Real Madrid, Arsenal also rang changes in their goalkeeping department albeit a forced one as former nuber 2 Lukasz Fabianski moved to Swansea on a free transfer and Arsenal turned to former Nice Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina to replace him. with both Szczesny and Ospina having long term deals at Arsenal and been established internationals, it highly unlikely that Wenger would sign another international, a player with a massive ego like Casillas.
With Arsenal out of the race for his signature, the other likely contenders would be Liverpool, Chelsea and City. Casillas would not move to a club where Champions League is not guaranteed, where his huge wages at Real Madrid cannot be matched and where he won’t be first choice. Liverpool have Mignolet and from all indications, they are closing in on signing Victor Valdes on a free transfer. Certainly, they would prefer signing Valdes who is equally as experienced as Casillas for free rather than having to pay for Casillas. Also, should Valdes be brought in, he would be expected to compete with Mignolet for the first choice slot while Casillas would expect to walk into the team and be handed the number one spot on a platter.
Another team that can afford to pay his transfer fee and match his wages is Manchester City but just like the others, they are also well stocked in the goalkeeping department. At the Etihad, they already have Hart and Caballero. Should Casillas come in, Hart would have to leave because he won’t be wiling to sit on the bench. In fact the British media would cry blue murder, that the Three Lions number 1 is rotting on City’s bench. City on their part would loathe loosing Hart since he represents one of the very few home-grown talents at the Etihad. The problem with having huge money to splash out in the transfer market is that there might be few home grown talents. In the City team, Hart, Clichy, Nasri (Arsenal background) and Milner represent home grown talents but they might just loose Milner in January or the summer should he fail to agree a new deal.
A move to Chelsea is the most unlikely. Chelsea already have twi very good goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech. The latter is seeking a move away as he is reluctant to sit on the bench. If Cech who is rated better than Casillas could be benched for Courtois , is it Casillas that Lopes displaced that would displace the Belgian? Considering the hell he went through in the hands of Mourinho while the Portuguese was at Real Madrid, the Spanish goalkeeper would refuse any chance to link up with him again. The talk credited to Casillas where he lauded Mourinho is nothing but damage control. It is clear to seeing eyes that there is no love lost between the pair.
Finally, the big question, is Casillas, a perfect fit for the Premier League? I don’t think so. The EPL is not like the La Liga where passing the ball around is the style. In the Premier League, the order of the day is long balls and that is his weak point. Casillas doesn’t come out for crosses and corner kicks. In Spain, he might get away with it but in the England, he would be massively exposed especially against the bottom half teams.
While there is no guarantee that he would stay put in Real Madrid, I would advise he doesn’t consider the EPL as one of his limited options.