Mourinho decided to bench Casillas around Christmas. The World Cup winner eventually earned his place back but suffered a broken hand which allowed Diego Lopez to step in and take the role of starting keeper for himself.
The world was shocked to see a legend such as Casillas not see the pitch for such a long amount of time and the situation was tight.
Lopez was in brilliant form and there weren’t many chances for Casillas to fight for his former place. The Real Madrid captain even admitted that Lopez deserved his starting role in an interview with Marca reported by Stefan Coerts of Goal.
In the interview the 32-year-old stated that “Diego Lopez was superb and he deserved to continue playing. He had a brilliant season. He is a fantastic person and a great goalkeeper.”
But it was clear that the benching of Casillas was due to more than just fitness and form. There was also a lot of tension between the captain and manager Jose Mourinho.
In an interview with FIFA reported on Goal, Mark Doyle quoted the Spanish international as saying, “I’ve cried, I’ve suffered, I’ve been unwell. I’ve had sleepless nights.”
The keeper went on to say, “I’m a Madridista right down to my soul and above all else, what matters to me is the club.”
It is very clear that the situation took a large toll on the player who was once considered untouchable at the Spanish club.
But even now that Jose Mourinho has left the club there is still a matter to be dealt with.
Many Madridistas are hoping to see Casillas return to the starting lineup just as in previous seasons. However, the keeper will not just be freely handed back his spot.
One of the biggest questions entering the coming season is what the future holds for Iker Casillas at Real Madrid.
To begin with, it is certain that the Real Madrid legend will not be leaving the club.
In the same report from Mark Doyle of Goal, Casillas stated “I would love to retire at Real Madrid. I have regained happiness. It was not easy but I am another Iker Casillas now.”
After spending so many years at the Madrid-based club, no one really expected Casillas to make an exit. The player's comments make it clear that he will fight for his starting role and is aware that it will be a difficult battle.
However, despite his future with the club seeming certain it is still not yet known what his role will be in the coming season.
Though many expect the captain to once again be named the starting keeper, it will not be that simple.
Mark Doyle of Goal recently reported statements from Carlo Ancelotti's presentation as the new Real Madrid manager and he made it clear that Casillas would have to earn his spot.
The manager stated, “Casillas is a great player. He has won everything. But the rules of football are what they are: If he deserves it, he will play.”
The fact of the matter is that Casillas will not have a free pass. Diego Lopez made a huge impact last season and Iker Casillas has to respond.
His status as captain will not change and it is still highly expected that Casillas will retire at Madrid. The issue is not his future with the club, but rather what the present holds.
The Spanish and Real Madrid captain put in a strong showing recently at the Confederations Cup, but it was clear that he had five months of rust to shake off. However, the 32-year-old showed that he should still be considered one of the best in the world at his position.
Expect Casillas to compete at a very high level leading up the coming season. Everyone is expecting him to be the opening day starter and it’s likely that he will. But it will not be handed to him. Iker Casillas will earn his role back.
The new era under Carlo Ancelotti will be a return to normalcy at Real Madrid. And with that comes Iker Casillas as the heart and soul of Los Blancos.
What does the future hold for Iker Casillas? Will he retake his starting role back? Or will the shadow of Mourinho haunt him? Leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Casillas, Real Madrid, and all Spanish football.