Arsenal are about a year too late if they're thinking about adding Iker Casillas.
Arsenal and Manchester City are reportedly paying close attention to Real Madrid's Iker Casillas as the Spaniard ponders his future at the club.
The goalkeeper has spent his entire career in the Spanish capital, but has increasingly become a marginalised figure at the club.
Still only 32, Casillas has lost his first team place to Diego Lopez - new manager Carlo Ancelotti sticking with the decision made by Jose Mourinho last season.
In an interview on the El Hormiguero show, Casillas reiterated his desire to stay at Real Madrid, at least for the time being (via Sky Sports' Francisco Acedo):
In the future I see myself out of Real Madrid, inside ten years. At 38 it will be much more difficult for me.
Today, I'm one of Los Blancos. I'm delighted to be at Real Madrid. In five or six years, we'll see.
Every day rumours appear and whilst these stories appear, I belong to Real Madrid, which is the club of my life.
I want to stay here. Right now, my decision is to stay at Real Madrid. I want to get the tenth [European Cup], more trophies and more league titles.
You wouldn't expect Casillas to say anything different. Given the stakes, there's the chance that he'd be willing to move if it will help his chances for Spain ahead of the World Cup.
Should Arsenal want him, he'd probably be there for the taking.
If this was last season, you could see why the Gunners might want to buy a player such as Casillas, despite him not getting a run of games at Real Madrid. He's one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the world. Even at 32 years old, this is a player who can step into the first team on almost any other club.
In addition, this time last year, the Gunners had to worry about the sporadic performances of Wojciech Szczesny. The 23-year-old had his fair share of howlers and looked far from confident between the sticks. It wasn't enough to make you question his potential; you wouldn't have been wrong to think a stopgap was necessary in order to make him a better player.
However, this season, Szczesny has arguably been one of the best keepers in the Premier League. It's a complete 180 from the player he was last season.
Arsene Wenger acknowledged the improvement Szczesny has made, via ESPN FC's Miguel Delaney:
That begs the question: Why bring in somebody such as Casillas when you already have a talented goalkeeper who represents your present and your future?
This wouldn't be the case of an aging player coming to a club happy to play a mentor role rather than an on-field one. Yes, it would be nice for Casillas to mentor Szczesny, but you'd have to believe the Spanish star wouldn't be content to have that be his main duty.
Surely Casillas would only leave Madrid on the condition that he's going to get a strong chance at first-team action. Otherwise, there's no point in leaving the only club he's ever known.
That would mean Casillas jumping ahead of Szczesny on the team sheet, which stunts Szczesny's development and offers little to no benefit in the short term as he isn't a significant upgrade.
Casillas is still a very good goalkeeper, but he's not the same player he was a few years ago. His treatment by Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti does seem a bit odd, but he would be starting regularly if they had deemed him good enough to do so.
There's also the issue of Casillas being cup-tied. He's appeared in six Champions League matches for Madrid this season, so he wouldn't be available to Arsenal in the competition. In the event the club needed a goalkeeper, it would be good to have one who's able to contribute on all fronts.
All told, it's a problem the Gunners shouldn't have to worry about. Arsenal could use a few signings this January—namely a striker to complement Olivier Giroud. Goalkeeper, though, is the least of their worries at the moment.
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