Why Iker Casillas Needs to Leave Real Madrid Before the Transfer Window Shuts

Richard MartinSpecial to Bleacher ReportAugust 20, 2013

Casillas' future remains uncertain after he was left out of Madrid's first league game of the season.
Casillas' future remains uncertain after he was left out of Madrid's first league game of the season.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Flagship Spanish TV shows Tiki Taka and Punto Pelota have reported that Iker Casillas is planning on leaving Real Madrid in January if he does not return to being the club’s No. 1 goalkeeper.

According to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC: "Iker Casillas' former Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster has suggested that the Spanish goalkeeper might prefer a transfer to sitting on the bench during a World Cup year."

Jose Mourinho’s final six months at Madrid were tarnished by his decision to drop Casillas, and Carlo Ancelotti’s preference for Diego Lopez instead of the Madrid captain against Real Betis overshadowed his first league game in charge of the club.

Being the coach of Real Madrid carries enough stress as it is, and the question mark over Casillas is another distraction the Italian could do without.

Therefore, in the interests of everyone involved, it is vital that Casillas leaves Madrid, not in January, but before the summer transfer window slams shut on 2 September.

The Madrid-born Casillas may have personal motives to stay in the Spanish capital with his girlfriend, the TV journalist Sara Carbonero, pregnant with their first child.

But a player of Casillas’ stature and history needs to put his career before anything else, and that means starting afresh.

At 32, he should not be spending his final years as a footballer sitting on the bench wondering when he will get his next game.

Even if he is chosen for Madrid’s next league match against Granada, his place in the team is no longer guaranteed. He needs to move to a club where it is.

Playing regular football is even more important to Casillas this season, with the World Cup in Brazil coming up in less than 10 months’ time. The Spain captain cannot afford to be sitting on the bench and risk his status as Del Bosque’s No. 1 choice in Brazil when fellow goalkeepers Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina and David de Gea will be playing every week for their respective clubs.

It also makes sense from Madrid’s point of view that Casillas leaves. It cannot be denied that the squad was divided following the rift between Casillas and Mourinho last season. Alvaro Arbeloa has admitted to falling out with the goalkeeper over their contrasting opinions on Mourinho in an interview with Cadena SER (via AS), while there is also a suggestion from Roberto Morales on Punto Pelota that Casillas does not get on with Xabi Alonso either.

If Madrid want to wrestle back the title from Barcelona and make another attempt to win their 10th European Cup, the whole squad needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet and cannot be weakened by internal bickering. The safest way to ensure that happens is to get rid of Casillas.

There are also question marks about Casillas' ability to cut it at the highest level any more. His form dipped after Euro 2012, and he made costly errors against Valencia and Real Betis, while former Madrid director of football Arrigo Sacchi has remarked to El Confidencial (via football-espana.net) "Iker Casillas has always trained poorly."

While Mourinho may have had personal reasons to leave Casillas out, Ancelotti does not, which raises some doubt over whether he is in fact better than Lopez, who proved last season he is a top-class goalkeeper and more than capable of holding the fort on his own.

Madrid will have no problems finding suitors for a goalkeeper with 14 years of experience at one of the biggest clubs in the world, not to mention a trophy collection that includes the World Cup, two European Championships and two Champions Leagues. 

In April, The Sunday Mirror reported that Arsenal, who have had goalkeeping troubles ever since Jens Lehmann left the club, were monitoring Casillas' situation.

The Real Madrid captain may have given his life to the club, but he is past his best, and his continued presence at the Bernabeu is debilitating it at a time where Real needs to show strength. For the benefit of Madrid and himself, it is time Casillas moved on.