“The Martyrdom of Saint Iker” was how Marca put it on Tuesday.
Ahead of Real Madrid’s Champions League encounter away to Juventus, the Spanish daily pointed out that while Iker Casillas was likely to be handed just his fourth start of the season, it was to be in a city in which he had never posted a win.
“There is good news and bad news for Casillas,” the article read. “The good news is that it’s Champions League time and he returns to the team. The bad news is that the game is in Turin—the scene of some of the darkest nights in the Madrid ‘keeper’s career in Europe.”
Not that things can get much darker for the 32-year-old.
Relegated to the number-two goalkeeper’s job by manager Carlo Ancelotti, Casillas has yet to start a match in La Liga this term and has only been given playing time in the Champions League—a competition he won in both 2000 and 2002.
But even those successes, not to mention the 2010 World Cup triumph or back-to-back European Championships, have not been enough to keep the Madrid icon in the first team this campaign. In addition, with Diego Lopez seeming to have taken a firm hold on the number-one job, the Primera Division giants have reportedly been on the look-out for a full-time back-up.
This week the outlet Sport, as relayed by Football-Espana, revealed Madrid were considering a swoop for Espanyol’s Kiko Casilla, who came through at the capital side as a youngster:
Casilla, 27, has started all 12 La Liga matches for the Barcelona outfit this season and has allowed just 15 goals from 120 shots while claiming an eye-popping 100 percent of his claims from crosses and set-pieces, as per of The Score and Squawka.
At 6-foot-3 he poses a formidable figure between the sticks, and given his age Madrid would likely consider grooming him to succeed Diego Lopez as well.
But what would his arrival mean for Casillas?
Last month he went on the record saying he would consider an exit from the Bernabeu if his situation didn’t change, and already Premier League leaders Arsenal are thought to have expressed an interest in the five-time La Liga winner, as per The Independent.
With the World Cup just over seven months away, a change of clubs would likely be in his best interests regarding his place in the Spanish national team as well.
Spain manager Vicente del Bosque rotated his goalkeepers in recent internationals against Belarus and Georgia, and with Victor Valdes enjoying a fine season at Barcelona it’s not like Casillas doesn’t have competition for the top job.
That said, this is hardly the way Casillas envisioned his exit from his boyhood club, and it would be foolish to write him off.
But given Madrid’s apparent foray into the transfer market, it seems they may already have.