Casillas to City Makes Sense

Posted: November 8, 2013 in La Liga, Premier League

Iker

Save after save from Diego Lopez is met by cameras panning into the view of Iker Casillas. Commentators discuss his future week in, week out and repeat their points as the Spaniard becomes increasingly frustrated on the bench, reacting with bemusement to every save because he knows that the cameras are fixated on him.

Context

It all started under Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid reign, the Portuguese manager was adamant that Casillas took his first-team place for granted and did not work hard enough in training to merit guarding the goal every week for ‘Los Merengues’. Mourinho, out of frustration, would start Adan ahead of Casillas as he looked to give the Spaniard a wake up call – a rude awakening, if you will. Adan was dire and, with much reluctance, Mourinho opted for Casillas as the starter. Fast forward a tad into last season and Casillas picked up a hand injury (broken fingers) which set him back a couple of months. By the time Casillas had recovered and returned to full fitness, a new goalkeeper had already taken his place and was making waves, gaining plaudits from fans and pundits alike as well as receiving praise from Mourinho: Diego Lopez was the new kid on the block.

Mourinho left, Ancelotti arrived and still Casillas struggles with dispossessing Lopez of his first-team status. Casillas has been restricted to Copa del Rey and Champions League starts which, essentially, means a lot less game time than Lopez. The notion of a new manager filled Casillas with the hope that he would return to being one of the first names on the team sheet and, yet again, he has been given a wake up call. Casillas needs to move from Real Madrid and he is finally beginning to accept that. When baited by a reporter asking if he is considering leaving the Bernabeu, Casillas bit and replied: “If I am still not playing again in three months and you asked me the same question, then maybe I would say that I am thinking of leaving”.

There is a tear in the Real Madrid fan base regarding Casillas; some love him, some not so much. This all stems back to the pro and anti Mourinho division in the Real Madrid fan base and this is one of the bits of debris left behind after Mourinho’s destructive final year at the club. But how does Casillas view the fans? Does he view them highly enough to rule out a move to arch-rivals Barcelona? Victor Valdes is out of contract in the summer but Casillas becoming available could push the Catalan club to sell Valdes in January. San (Saint) Iker would be seen as the biggest traitor of all to make the jump from Real Madrid to Barcelona and vice-versa. Does he want to burn all bridges with Real Madrid or does he want to leave as the man who was, in his and many others’ eyes, unfairly treated and harshly scapegoated?

Casillas to City – it makes sense

I, for one, cannot see Casillas in a Barcelona shirt and would bet a lot of money that it will never happen. As silly and reactionary as Florentino Perez is, surely he would not risk strengthening his club’s biggest rival… Or maybe he would. Perez is as enigmatic as club presidents come. Personally, I can only see Casillas moving to Manchester City and it is a move that makes so much sense that it would be a tad shocking if Casillas opted for a different club.

Settling in would not be an issue in any way, shape or form for Casillas. First of all, he has spent many years captaining one of the biggest sides in Europe so he most definitely will not cower away and struggle to gel with his teammates. Manchester City have a very strong Spanish contingent, flaunting four Spaniards in their squad: Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, David Silva and Javi Garcia. Two of those four players, at some point in their respective careers, spent some time at Real Madrid, albeit mostly with the ‘B’ team but in and around the senior squad, and therefore should already be acquainted with Casillas.

Manuel Pellegrini would be a huge factor in Manchester City pulling off the signing for more than one reason. Casillas worked under Pellegrini in the 2009-2010 season, a season which was a success for Real Madrid, in terms of point tally, as they broke their record for most points in La Liga, only to be trumped by one of the greatest Barcelona sides of all-time. Casillas’ relationship with Pellegrini was a good one but the Chilean was harshly sacked after that season following his inability to win La Decima – an obsession of everyone affiliated with Real Madrid. Pellegrini said, upon his departure, “I didn’t have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It’s no good having an orchestra with the 10 best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won’t be able to do it so well. He [Pérez] sold players that I considered important. We didn’t win the Champions League because we didn’t have a squad properly structured to be able to win it.” It would be bittersweet for Pellegrini himself if he plucked Casillas out of the Real Madrid team and went on to add some prestigious trophies to his CV with a Real Madrid boy.

Pellegrini gives Casillas orders at Real Madrid

Pellegrini gives Casillas orders at Real Madrid

Joe Hart’s dire form for well over a season has just hit rock bottom. Pellegrini has finally grown the courage to drop Joe Hart and bring Costel Pantilimon into the starting 11; whether this is permanent or not, only time will tell. Should Pellegrini freeze Hart out, this would pave the way for Casillas to walk straight into the Manchester City side in a very ironic manner. What Hart could find himself going through in the future is exactly what Casillas is going through right now. Casillas will demand assurance of being first choice which both Pellegrini and City will adhere to, without a doubt.

It goes without mentioning that this is a World Cup year. In Spain’s last two friendlies, Del Bosque has opted for Valdes between the sticks because of Casillas’ lack of game time. This could very well be Casillas’ last World Cup and he will want to be the first name on the team sheet as Spain set out to retain their World Cup trophy, much like they did with the European Championship. He would start the remainder of City’s games if he were to join in January, possibly missing out on a couple of cup games due to rotation and Hart being given (another) chance, and that would be enough for him to get right back into contention at international level.

Conclusion

Casillas would have a point to prove wherever he goes as many are now under the assumption that he is not as good as he used to be. Casillas has recently been linked to Schalke but I am certain that he would see that as a step down, especially if big money City come along to play. His price-tag I am unsure of but if he forces his way out it should not be much for those interested in him. Manchester City would be the perfect move for Casillas but will he battle it out with Lopez in order to show that he is not cowering away from a challenge or will he just play it safe and move to a club where he will play regularly and competitively?

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