The standout goalkeeper for Real Madrid and the all-conquering Spanish national team has emerged as one of Arsenal’s transfer targets. The Premier League club is considering launching a £17 million ($26 million) transfer bid for Casillas this summer, the Star reports.
“The Spanish No. 1 has been a fixture at the Bernabeu for years but his future is in doubt after spending much of this season injured or dropped,” the report says.
“And he hinted at a possible move in an interview earlier this week, saying: ‘I want the fans to remember me as a player who wore the Real shirt with pride.'”
The idea of Casillas leaving Real Madrid was unthinkable until recently, as the 31-year-old has been Real Madrid’s starting goalkeeper for the better part of the last 13 years. He also serves as captain at his boyhood club — an honor which he has worn with great distinction over the years.
But Casillas has endured a difficult 2012-13 season. He struggled with form and reportedly clashed with manager Jose Mourinho in the early months of the campaign. Mourinho even benched Casillas in December, marking the first time in over 10 years that the Real Madrid icon was healthy but did not start in goal. After recovering his starting spot, he suffered another setback. A broken hand he suffered in late January kept him out of action for two months and prompted Real Madrid to buy Diego Lopez near the close of that month’s transfer window. Club doctors have cleared Casillas to play again, but he remains on backup duty.
This season will most likely be Mourinho’s last at Real Madrid, and a new manager could conceivably restore Casillas to the status of undisputed starter. But Casillas’ problems at the Bernabeu could also extend beyond clashes with Mourinho. If those troubles are significant enough to make Casillas consider leaving the club, many clubs would jump at the chance to sign the star goalkeeper. His contract expires in 2015, so his transfer value will begin to fall after this summer, as he approaches the final year of his current deal.
Arsenal is thought to be in the market for a new goalkeeper, after starter Wojciech Szczesny struggled for much of the season. The Gunners reportedly want an experienced goalkeeper to challenge and mentor the 22-year-old. Casillas could provide that service, but it’s more likely that his arrival would end of Szczesny’s hopes of manning the Arsenal goal for the next decade.
Photo via Facebook/Iker Casillas