Legendary Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas is confused about his situation at Real Madrid according to his former assistant manager Aitor Karanka.
The now Middlesbrough manager has spoken about his time at the Madrid club, where he was right-hand man to Jose Mourinho. According to Karanka, Casillas was ousted by Diego Alves because of form alone, something the Spanish number one is struggling to understand (from Goal.com):
We thought a lot about his situation because we knew he was not just any player. We thought he should be performing better
I don’t know if Iker understood why he was benched. The same thing happened with [Fernando] Hierro, [Manuel] Sanchis and Raul. I think that he must have understood the situation.
We were friends. We don’t have that relationship now because I left the club, and in all honesty, during those three years, especially towards the end, our relationship wasn’t great.
Karanka’s words will be music to the ears of teams seeking a top class keeper. And one side that has been linked with the Spaniard in recent weeks is Arsenal.
As of now my decision is to stay and fight, to struggle and play every day. If I wasn’t sure about it I would have told the president I wanted to leave in September. That being said, if in three months things haven’t changed and you ask me the same question, well maybe I’ll be thinking about leaving.
For Casillas, though, things haven’t changed. Lopez still looks to be Carlo Ancelotti’s number one goalkeeper, playing in all Real Madrid’s La Liga games to date. By comparison, Casillas has been Real Madrid’s starting goalkeeper in all of Los Blancos’ European fixtures.
As we approach the end of 2013, that makes just five starts for Casillas in the first four months of the season. If Ancelotti continues to abide by this policy, Casillas will play a maximum of 13 games this season, and that’s only if Real Madrid make it to the Champions League final. Is that enough for a goalkeeper of his class and calibre?
Certainly not, and if he is looking for a move, Arsenal must do their best to snap him up. At 32, Casillas still has a lot to offer and would surely relish the challenge of playing in the Premier League.
It would be harsh on current Gunners number one Wojciech Szczesny, who has started to rediscover some form in recent weeks. But the Polish international remains a little erratic and is still learning about being a goalkeeper at the very top level.
Plus, even at his very best, Szczesny is not yet in the same bracket as Casillas, who is a wonderful leader and a genuine world class performer. He has won domestic, European and international titles and that experience would immediately improve pretty much every team on the planet.
Casillas is an affable, respectful character who will certainly not kick up a fuss over his lack of playing time. And he said recently, as noted by ESPN's Dermot Corrigan, he is looking to stay at Real Madrid if possible.
But ahead of the World Cup, sitting on the bench will lead to questions about whether he should be starting for the Spanish national team, especially with Barcelona’s Victor Valdes having an excellent season too. He is the captain and his place does look safe. But if he continues to miss out and Valdes impresses, how long can Del Bosque continue to justify his inclusion?
Casillas leaving Real Madrid was once an unthinkable proposition. But a departure does seem to be looking more and more likely for this legendary figure. If he does become available and Arsenal are interested, they would be crazy not to make him their primary target.