Real Madrid Transfer News: Manuel Neuer Eyed as Iker Casillas Replacement

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2014

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas watches play against Roma during a Guinness International Champions Cup soccer tournament match, Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Manuel Neuer is being targeted as Real Madrid's long-term successor to Iker Casillas, according to Spanish publication AS (via Sport Bild). It is also suggested Casillas will move to Arsenal on a free in the summer of 2015, thus making room for Neuer's arrival.

The German keeper is "preferred" to Casillas, per BBC Sport (via the Bild article). Los Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti has already ruled out making further signings this summer, saying his transfer activity is "done," per AS

As such, a potential bid for Neuer isn't likely to take place soon, even though constant speculation has surrounded the goalkeeping situation at Madrid since Jose Mourinho consistently dropped Casillas for Diego Lopez.

Casillas has rarely replicated his top form since spending time away from the starting lineup. Mainly used as a cup goalkeeper across the last two club seasons, he appeared shaky and irresponsible during his summer exploits with Spain at the World Cup.

Despite speculation, Nicholas Rigg of ESPN FC confirms Casillas will start the upcoming Spanish Super Cup match against Atletico Madrid. He wonders whether this means the 33-year-old should be considered No. 1 again:

While Lopez has exited to AC Milan, per BBC Sport, Madrid's decision to bring in Keylor Navas also suggests Casillas may spend considerable time away from the first team.

Navas proved himself to be an exceptional goalkeeper across his three-year tenure with Levante and during the World Cup with Costa Rica, but he doesn't offer the same air of authority Casillas used to evoke at the Bernabeu.

Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Neuer is quite the opposite. The German World Cup winner, who performed excellently during his nation's tournament triumph, is a natural leader. His physical stature, willingness to meet opponents head-on when long balls are played over his defence and natural shot-stopping abilities make Neuer one of this generation's best.

He is the type of player who is always willing to stand up and be counted, whether for Bayern Munich or Germany. While it seems unlikely the Bavarian club would ever let Neuer leave, the player may fancy a different challenge at some point in his career. Neuer has won all there is to win with Bayern, suggesting an alternate test could be appealing.

Casillas' time at the Bernabeu is certainly running out and, in the current state, is drawing to a disappointing end. He will want to leave the club on his own terms and at the top of his game—not because a better candidate is ready to succeed him.

Casillas' performance level has dropped, but he remains a sentimental choice.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Manuel Neuer of Bayern Muenchen catches the ball during the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Alex Grimm/G
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

This feeling will disappear if he makes any key mistakes during the season. Neuer is likely to continue the run of form that saw him nominated for UEFA's Best Player in Europe award, per Chris Waugh of the Daily Mail, while it's crunch time for Casillas' career in the Spanish capital.

Reports remain speculative, but Casillas is likely to feel anxious with Madrid's possible future intentions making the rounds. The movement of such a transfer may depend on each goalkeeper's performances, ensuring a pressure-filled season awaits for the man Real Madrid fans have called No. 1 for so long.