Leeds United opinion: Whites should offload Kiko Casilla
According to claims from Spanish outlet Marca, as cited by Football Espana, Leeds United shot-stopper Kiko Casilla has attracted interest from Spanish side Sevilla, who are looking to bring in the 32-year-old this summer as competition for Tomas Vaclik.
The news might surprise a few of the fans at Elland Road, given that Casilla only moved to West Yorkshire back in January last season from Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid.
Marcelo Bielsa replaced former No.1 Bailey Peacock-Farrell with the La Liga veteran but his performances during the second half of the previous campaign drew mixed reactions from the fans and pundits.
The 32-year-old came through the door at a time when Leeds were pretty much the favourites to finish in the automatic promotion places in the Championship but his stay at Elland Road coincided with the Whites’ poor run of form over the Easter period, which left them to vie for a playoff spot instead.
Casilla produced some confident displays between the sticks in the Championship upon his arrival from the Bernabeu on a free transfer in January but the veteran’s struggles with getting to grips with the English game became more and more apparent as time went by.
The 1-cap Spanish international proved to be one of the villains in Leeds’ agonising decapitation against Derby County in the second leg of the play-off semi-finals at Elland Road, with a bizarre error of judgement from Casilla ending the club’s promotion hopes.
The former La Liga star managed 6 clean sheets in 19 appearances for the Whites last season but his error-prone nature might prompt Bielsa to rethink his stance regarding the No.1 role for the upcoming campaign.
Having started his career in the youth ranks at Real Madrid, Casilla left his boyhood club in favour of Espanyol to make a name for himself in the La Liga.
The shot-stopper played as the No.1 at Espanyol for quite a long time and accumulated 126 appearances for the Catalan club over the course of six seasons before earning a coveted return to the Bernabeu in 2015.
His return didn’t prove to be a particularly fruitful one, though, as Casilla largely played second-fiddle to Keylor Naves before Thibaut Courtois’ arrival from Chelsea pushed him further down the pecking order.
Now, shifting our attention to Sergio Rico, the 25-year-old Spaniard was one of the few shining lights of Fulham’s otherwise calamitous campaign in the top-flight last season.
The 6ft. 4-inch shot-stopper, who featured for Spain in Euro 2016, was often the lone warrior at the back for the Cottagers, with a brittle back four in front of him just not doing enough to relieve the pressure.
He managed only 5 clean sheets in 29 Premier League starts but, in all honesty, it would be harsh to judge his performances based on those numbers because Fulham had one of the poorest defensive records in the division the last term.
As a matter of fact, Rico averaged 3.8 saves per game with a shot-saved percentage of 66, figures lie testimony to the fact that he did really well in his first season in England.
To put things into perspective, Leeds United should welcome the opportunity to have Sergio Rico as a part of their plans for the upcoming season and the departure of Casilla isn’t likely to draw too much criticism, given that he failed to live up to his reputation last season.
Casilla has a contract at Elland Road until the summer of 2023 but the Whites should be open to a change in personnel between the sticks next season.
Peacock-Farrell continues to be a bright prospect but one does get the feeling that Rico could be a real coup of Leeds, as Bielsa looks to reignite his promotion surge once again next term.
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It looks unlikely that Rico would drop down to England’s second-tier after winning the Europa League twice with Sevilla but we all know strange things do happen in football.