REAL MADRID | IKER CASILLAS
Arsenal set sights on Iker Casillas
Arséne Wenger wants Spain captain to solve a long-standing problem at the Emirates.
Arsenal manager Arséne Wenger has not given up hope of securing the signature of Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas before the start of the World Cup. The Gunners’ goal continues to be a problematic area for the French coach, who has only Wojciech Szczesny available at the moment following the departure of Lukasz Fabianski to Swansea and the end of Emiliano Viviano’s loan from Palermo. And Szczesny has never really convinced at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal have their eye on Casillas to offer stability in goal, something that has been lacking for many years.
Arsenal expressed an interest in the Spain number one at the beginning of the season, when Real boss Carlo Ancelotti stated he would rotate his goalkeepers. Casillas was thus restricted to just 24 appearances this season; 13 in Europe, nine in the Copa del Rey and two in the league. Casillas considered a move to the Premier League in December but having finally won the coveted Décima with Real his perspective has changed and he is now less willing to depart the club where he has spent his entire career. Wenger, though, has a couple of cards up his sleeve; Santi Cazorla, a close friend of Casillas’, and Mesut Özil, who also enjoys a good relationship with the goalkeeper.
However, Casillas has three years remaining on his contract at the Bernabéu and buy-out clause stands at 180 million euros. Casillas signed his current deal in 2008 and is paid on a gradually decreasing scale as the years tick by. This season he received 8.5 million euros; next year the figure will drop to eight. In 2015-16 Casillas will receive 7.5 million and then seven million the following season, the last of his current contract.
Wenger’s idea is to seek a low-cost transfer in order to be able to offer Casillas an astronomical deal to join Arsenal. But that will require Casillas to negotiate his Bernabéu exit, for as little as possible in terms of a transfer fee.
Also attracting interest is Diego López, who supplanted Casillas in goal for the 2013-14 league campaign. Rafael Benítez’s Napoli are again in the market for a Real Madrid signing, having already taken Gonzalo Higuaín and José Callejon to Serie A. But López’s agent says his client’s intention “is to remain at Real Madrid.”