Are FC Barcelona Interested In Signing Iker Casillas?

Friends reunited? - Shaun Botterill

Facing the prospect of another season sitting on the Real Madrid bench, there are suggestions from Spain that Iker Casillas may be looking to leave the Santiago Bernabeu -- could FC Barcelona make a surprise move?

Despite the departure of Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas was demoted to the bench once again this past weekend, as new Los Blancos coach Carlo Ancelotti took charge of his first competitive match at the Santiago Bernabeu – and according to one Spanish journalist, Casillas has had enough.

Carlos Perez, a journalist for Andalusian-based newspaper Estadio Deportivo claims that Casillas believes that his omission from the starting line-up is not influenced by "sporting matters", but as a result of orders from above – presumably alluding to current Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez. With his position at the club less than guaranteed, Casillas is said to fear for his place in Vicente del Bosque’s Spanish squad and if the situation does not improve, he knows that he may have to leave the Bernabeu in order to start at the upcoming World Cup.

Perez goes on to report to Punto Pelota that Casillas "has four offers" but would "prefer a move to Manchester", although there is no clarification as to whether this involves Manchester City, or Manchester United.

While there may be some truth to the story, Punto Pelota is hardly regarded as a trustworthy source, and it’s difficult to see how an Andalusian journalist has the inside scoop on Iker Casillas’ career, particularly ahead of Madrid-based organisations like Marca for instance. But what if we suspend our disbelief for a moment and trust Carlos Perez’ sources. What if Iker Casillas does have four offers? And what if Casillas would prefer a move to Manchester – does this mean that he wouldn’t be interested in a move to FC Barcelona?

Given that Iker Casillas supposedly prefers a move to Manchester, is it safe to assume that one of those four "offers" is from a Manchester-based club? Even if it’s hard to envisage either United or City dropping David de Gea or Joe Hart respectively, let’s just roll with it and say that there are three remaining "offers" – if previous rumours are anything to go by, another "offer" may have come from the Premier League, and from Arsenal. That leaves us with two "offers" – and by the time we’ve eliminated the clubs capable of funding a purchase who already have a top-class keeper (so, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Juventus etc.) we’re left with a very short list indeed. Monaco? Maybe an Eastern European club with lots of resources?

Barcelona?

It’s no secret that Barça will be on the look-out for a new goalkeeper now that Victor Valdés is looking for a new challenge – and Casillas fits the bill perfectly. He’s comfortable in possession, excels in one-on-one situations and is a born-leader. And even if he is a Madridista, his relationship with FC Barcelona is far from usual.

Not only has he endeared himself to Culés by effectively standing up to Jose Mourinho, but he’s acted as peacekeeper in the past, reaching out to Xavi after a series of heated Clasicos in 2011. Thanks to his involvement with the National Team, he has built up friendships with the majority of the Barça squad, while his younger brother Unai is actually a Barça supporter.

His father, Jose Luis Casillas was one of the first people to congratulate Barcelona president Sandro Rosell after the latter won the 2010 elections – and this respect is clearly mutual. Multiple Barcelona players from Xavi to Lionel Messi have all declared Iker Casillas to be the best goalkeeper in the world at one stage or another – and Xavi went as far as to say that Casillas would be "welcome" at Barcelona back in April. Admittedly, he conceded that a transfer was extremely unlikely – although these latest developments may have changed both his, and Iker’s mind. Maybe it will even prompt Rosell to make an official bid...

"There is one Real Madrid player I have liked for many years...and of course there is one that I would like to sign. Is it Iker Casillas? I’m not giving away any clues..."

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