Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas is set to reject any offers from the Premier League as he aims to finish his decorated career with the European champions.
The 33-year-old was linked with a move to Arsenal over the summer with his starting role at the Santiago Bernabeu in doubt while recent reports have suggested Liverpool could turn to the Spanish international if they are unsuccessful in their bid to sign fellow countryman Victor Valdes.
Casillas wants to stay loyal to Madrid, however, and in an interview on Spanish television channel Canal Plus on Monday night he revealed that there had been no approach from the Gunners and that he is set on staying in the Spanish capital after winning back his starting role this season.
"I thought about leaving," he said. "You do not want to bother people or create a bad atmosphere, because you always want Madrid to win, but then you think: 'I must compete and fight.' Those two years [without regular first team football] have made me fight and become stronger. I did not do anything about leaving. It was more people who were talking about it. There was no concrete offer [from Arsenal]. My idea was, and is, to finish my career here.”
Last season Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti used Casillas primarily in the Champions League, which saw the goalkeeper collect his third winners’ medal, and the Copa del Rey, which Madrid also won with a final victory over Barcelona, while Diego Lopez started in La Liga.
The year before that the Spain captain was frozen out by Jose Mourinho.
Despite admitting he did not like how he played in Brazil as Spain’s defence of their World Cup finished in tatters, coupled with the fact Madrid signed Costa Rica star Keylor Navas from Levante this summer, Ancelotti has restored the Madrid legend back into his starting eleven this season. Lopez left for AC Milan and Navas is acting as back-up.
That decision did not go down well with some Madrid fans, who greeted his early appearances with whistles this season, something the goalkeeper admitted “hurt”. He has slowly won them over, however, and when his name was read out before Sunday night’s match against Athletic Bilbao it was met with cheers and not jeers. Casillas had performed well in the previous league match at Villarreal, which Madrid won 2-0, and enjoyed arguably his strongest performance since he was first dropped by Mourinho against Malaga in December 2012.
Madrid have kept back-to-back clean sheets in the league for the first time this season.
Now he is hoping to restore his confidence game by game and return to the form that saw him become one of the best goalkeepers in the world and a club legend at the Bernabeu. He has not lost the faith of his international coach Vicente del Bosque, who has kept Casillas as captain and will start him when the European Champions visit Slovakia on Thursday.
Casillas, who was also linked with Manchester City and Monaco while he was not part of Madrid’s first team plans, admits a move to experience a career abroad is appealing but his current return to action means he is likely set to remain at the club where he has already won three European Cups, five league trophies and two Copa del Rey winners’ medals. “Madrid is my home,” he continued. “I’ll always feel this way.
I was educated here and got my start here. I can’t understand my life without Real Madrid. He added: “I’d love to have an experience abroad to bring more value to Real Madrid, which already has incalculable value to me.”Reuse content