Why Bernabeu Legend Iker Casillas Will Never Leave Real Madrid for Barcelona
While he spent the whole of the second half of last season playing backup to Diego Lopez, few expected him to continue as substitute once Jose Mourinho departed in the summer—but that's exactly the decision which was made by new boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian opted to keep faith with Lopez, leaving club captain and legend Casillas to sit amongst the likes of Alvaro Arbeloa and Kaka on the sidelines once more.
His continuation on the sidelines has lead to some inevitable speculation that he might be tempted to leave after more than 650 appearances for the Santiago Bernabeu club—but suggestions that he might depart for rivals Barcelona are hugely wide of the mark.
Eurosport.Yahoo.com report that Spanish newspaper Sport are indicating Iker has been sounded out by La Liga champions Barcelona over a surprise switch, with current Barça keeper Victor Valdes set to leave when his contract expires at the end of this season.
Casillas may or may not be considering a departure from Real—the Eurosport article indicates he was unhappy enough to not want to warm up on the pitch before the Betis match—but it certainly won't be to go to the Camp Nou if he does.
For starters, despite the more recent big moves between clubs, Casillas is a Real Madrid kid, who has come through the ranks to win titles and play in big finals for the club.
Luis Figo went from Barcelona to Real, but as a Portuguese star seeking the best for his career, what loyalty did he owe either side? Before him there was Luis Enrique who travelled in the opposite direction, but even he started out at Sporting Gijon before joining Real Madrid.
Every great Real side, and even the almost-great ones, seem to have a fixture man at the club who is there no matter what.
Raul, for a time, was that man, now Casillas is.
He might be out the side, he might have a disagreement with the coach, but he's the lead man in the squad and a terrace favourite—now more than ever simply because he hasn't been in the side, yet he is one of them, a Madridista, a winner, a hero.
There is also the personal and professional convictions of the player to consider.
After so long at the club, will Iker Casillas want to walk away defeated, a No. 2, a mere backup? He's a World Cup winner, a Champions League winner and a record breaker, so is nine months on the substitutes bench going to be his final and enduring memory of being a Real Madrid player?
His long-term partner also lives in Madrid and the two are expecting a child soon.
Casillas will, or at least should, be determined to win back his place.
There could have been an argument that Mourinho was merely making a point by leaving him on the bench but Ancelotti should have no such agenda. If the Italian has chosen Diego Lopez to start the season, it's because he has performed better in training in preseason and shown the greater desire and ability to start the season.
Being a Real Madrid goalkeeper is not a position of right, even for Casillas, and if he remains one of the world's best stoppers then all he needs to do is apply himself to display exactly that. If he does so, there can be little Lopez can do to keep him out.
A move? Possibly, but not likely at this stage.
But it will never be a move to Barcelona.
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