Guillem Balague, well-regarded expert in the world of Spanish football, has revealed Iker Casillas is finally coming to terms with the fact he may leave Real Madrid this summer:
Guillem Balague says Iker Casillas is growing increasingly disillusioned at Real Madrid and is wanted by Man City. http://t.co/DESlQDa69N— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) November 27, 2013
Balague says the Spain international will no longer settle for a bench role if he does not win back his No. 1 jersey by the end of the season, and that Manchester City are determined to bring him to the Etihad.
Balague told Revista de la Liga, via Sky Sports:
Manchester City definitely want Iker Casillas for next season. He's known about it for a while, but they are not the only team that are after Iker Casillas.
It will be up to him what he does next, obviously. But if he continues to not play, and he won't unless Diego Lopez gets injured, then he wants to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season.
He's had enough and he's imagining the possibility of playing abroad. Although he loves the Premier League, maybe it doesn't suit his game as much as the Italian league or the German league.
Casillas is yet to feature in a single league game for Madrid this season, making only six club starts across all competitions, according to ESPN FC.
He lost his place to Lopez under Jose Mourinho and has seen that trend continue since Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival. Both coaches favour Lopez who, in fairness, is a world-class keeper in his own right.
Who is better?
However, Casillas is a Madrid legend having played over 600 games for the Spanish giants, per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC. He has won five La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns, in addition to several other major honours.
At international level, he is a World Cup champion and two-time European Championship winner, skippering Spain during the most glorious era of the nation’s history.
For Casillas to be sat on the bench at the age of 32—still relatively young for a keeper—is extraordinary. He still ranks, arguably, among the top five keepers in world football.
City’s interest is understandable. Joe Hart’s form this term has been so bad that he has been dropped for Costel Pantilimon after a string of costly errors.
Manuel Pellegrini’s trust has worn thin and the City boss knows Casillas well from his own time in Spain.
Pellegrini recently insisted Hart would not be leaving in January, per John Edwards of the Daily Mail, but it is clear the City boss sees the goalkeeping position as an area of weakness.
City have been linked to Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic but Peter Coates, chairman of Stoke, told Martin Smith of the Sentinel he has had no approach from Pellegrini’s men. Instead, it is Casillas the Chilean is targeting.
However, as Balague says, City will likely face competition from several European giants. The Premier League is the most physical of the top divisions across the continent, so Casillas might prefer a switch to Italy or Germany, where crosses are contested with less abandon:
Mancini on Casillas: “He’s one of the best keepers in the world and he shows it in every game he plays”.— Real Madrid Info (@RmadridInfo) November 27, 2013
Arsenal have also been linked to Casillas, per Simon Rice of the Independent, although Wojciech Szczesny’s form would make it difficult for Arsene Wenger to relegate his No. 1 for the arrival of the Madrid man.
The January window will prove an interesting time for Casillas. Balague predicts a decision on his future will be made in the summer, but Casillas cannot afford to go six months without football heading into the World Cup.