Iker Casillas: What's Next for Legendary Real Madrid Goalkeeper?

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Iker Casillas: What's Next for Legendary Real Madrid Goalkeeper?
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

It was a season to forget for Iker Casillas and Real Madrid.

After a puzzling turn of events, the legendary goalkeeper was dropped by Jose Mourinho and saw life on the bench for the first time in years.

Despite clawing his way back onto the field, Casillas then suffered a broken hand—allowing his replacement Diego Lopez to make a genuine claim that he is the No. 1 keeper in the capital city.

Mourinho might be gone, but the tumultuous season followed by a less-than-stellar showing at the Confederations Cup indicate that the future remains unclear for Casillas.

On his best day—which is most—Casillas is one of the best keepers in the world.

The captain of both Real Madrid and Spain, Casillas has won nearly every competitive trophy on the market. His list of personal accolades is endless, and he is Spain's most capped player of all time.

But Real Madrid do not run on past accomplishments. A club with a rich history, Los Blancos know they must concentrate on the present in order to pave the way for the future.

Mark Doyle of Goal recently reported comments made by incoming manager Carlo Ancelotti that typified the competitive atmosphere at the Bernabeu.

The Italian 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."

Does Casillas deserve it?

The gut reaction for every Madrid fan is a resounding yes. After years of brilliant service, that is to be expected. But Ancelotti will bring fresh eyes to rightfully assess who is indeed in better form.

At age 32, Casillas is far from finished. However, it is unclear how much longer he can maintain the form we are so accustomed to watching. While many begin to slow, some keepers are capable of producing late into their careers. 

The difference is, Diego Lopez has already proven that there are viable alternatives. Should Casillas suffer a dip in form—even for a few games—he now has the immediate pressure of a proven replacement stepping in.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Diego Lopez impressed while Casillas was out.

While big clubs thrive off of squad rotation, the goalkeeper and captain roles are usually consistent. Casillas has earned both with ease in the past, and his selfless love for the club is to be admired.

Casillas must fight for his place in goal this season. Though Lopez will be ready to pounce on any opportunity he gets, Casillas will have the chance to escape Mourinho's mind games and regain focus.

With a gritty work ethic and a wealth of experience, Casillas should find his way back into the staring lineup in no time.

But how long he can remain there is anybody's guess.

Casillas has been a comforting sight between the sticks for years, but it cannot last forever. At age 31, Diego Lopez will compete heavily for the right to play. With such strong competition, Casillas will no longer be able to rest on his laurels.

What do you guys think? Was the turmoil this season just a speed bump, or a sign of things to come for Iker Casillas?

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