Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has suggested former Real Madrid star Iker Casillas is using his media influence to orchestrate a campaign against David De Gea as he tries to return to the Spanish national team.
The Spanish press has been critical of De Gea for some time over his poor form for La Roja, but according to Mourinho, there's more at play.
Per James Ducker of the Telegraph, he explained his theory in his pre-match press conference ahead of United's meeting with Crystal Palance on Saturday.
While he never mentioned Casillas by name, it seemed clear who he meant: "But why criticism in Spain? Do you know? I know. Because there is somebody very powerful that is thinking about jumping [into the Spain team] again, but I think it’s very difficult to jump when you have the best goalkeeper in the world in front of you."
He also said this player was someone he coached at Real Madrid and is trying to force his way back into the national team. Casillas has made no secret of his desire to return for La Roja, per Universo Valdano (h/t Sport)
As explained by Ducker, Casillas and Mourinho have a feud that dates back to their days with Los Blancos, and the bad blood doesn't appear to have disappeared.
The two had another war of words earlier this week:
De Gea has built a reputation as one of the world's best at United, but he has frequently fallen short of expectations with the national team.
He committed a series of blunders ahead of and during the 2018 World Cup in Russia and made another crucial mistake in a recent match against Croatia. Days later, he was dropped for Chelsea's Kepa Arrizabalaga.
A poll by Madrid-based newspaper AS after the Croatia match said fans of La Roja wanted Casillas to return to the team and go straight into the starting XI ahead of Arrizabalaga and Pau Lopez. Per Marco Gonzalez, De Gea only came in fourth.
The 37-year-old Casillas has reinvented himself since moving to FC Porto, putting up some impressive numbers for the Dragons:
Casillas is married to Sara Carbonero, a sports reporter and former TV presenter in Spain. He hasn't featured for the team since Euro 2016, when he backed up De Gea.