Would Manchester United swap De Gea for Casillas?

Iker Casillas

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas is linked with a potential exit at the Bernabeu after a summer of speculation over his future.

The Los Blancos captain is the face of Real Madrid and his national side in Spain but, after a fallout with former boss Jose Mourinho last term, his status as the undisputed number one was all of a sudden disputed.

Spanish sports journalist Enrique Marques claims Casillas is ‘determined’ to move to Manchester United. With the transfer window now closed and his contract running until 2017, it seems unlikely the Spanish giants would allow the Spain number one to leave at the age of 32 with still plenty of gas left in the tank.

“Casillas would like a transfer to Manchester United if he stays as reserve goalkeeper. He and his agents have spoken to Alex Ferguson more than once, and former United manager is in contact with the club directors”, Marques stated.

“They are excited about Casillas moving to Manchester and Ferguson has told him that. Casillas has always shown sympathy for United.”

Whilst Casillas himself may be interested in a move to the ‘theatre of dreams’, I know one of his compatriots who would be a little less than enthused about the possibility of the Spain number one and undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in the game arriving at Old Trafford.

22-year-old David De Gea has only just established himself at Old Trafford after arriving from Athletico Madrid for £17.8 million (a British record fee paid for a goalkeeper) in 2011. He struggled to adapt in his first term with the Red Devils but improved immensely last season, demonstrated emphatically by his performance in the Spanish capital against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

De Gea is a bright prospect for Spain but, at present, he has yet to make a senior appearance for Vincente del Bosque’s side due to the likes of Casillas, Barcelona’s Victor Valdes and Liverpool’s Pepe Reina (currently on loan at Napoli).

Casillas is 32, Valdes is 31, and Reina is also 31 – none of them are likely to retire for at least another 3/5 years.

De Gea will have to improve and develop to an extremely high level to oust any of them from between the sticks for Spain. He’s got plenty of time to improve, however, and, at United, he is in the perfect place to develop and impress in the spotlight at the most popular and well-known football club in the world.

The point is, development, especially for goalkeepers, is a slow and gradual process – experience is key to being a top goalkeeper. However, this is where Casillas is something of an anomaly – he made the grade to be Spain’s undisputed number one at the tender age of 21 back in 2002 when he took over from Santiago Canizares at the World Cup – he is subsequently the most capped player in the history of the Spanish national team with 150 caps to his name.

It is unlikely United would pay £17.8 million for a 22-year-old goalkeeper unless they expected to keep him for a long time and it’s unlikely De Gea would want to sit behind Casillas in the pecking order for United as he does for Spain.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, may well have an interest in De Gea and he would possibly have an interest in returning to the Spanish capital where he’d be right under the eye of Del Bosque.

Would United consider a swap deal perhaps? Casillas has at probably almost a decade of top level football left in him and De Gea is going to take at least that amount of time to develop into a keeper anywhere close to Casillas’ current level.

I think for all concerned that would be a deal worth considering – United would get arguably the best goalkeeper in the world (at the peak of his powers), Real Madrid would get the best prospect of the next generation and both players would get regular first-team football at one of the best clubs in the world.

image: © jansolo09

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