Two of the greatest goalkeepers to have played the game are reaching an age where retirement is closer to reality than mere contemplation. However, while Gianluigi Buffon is still at the peak of his powers and about to play in the Champions League Final with Juventus, Iker Casillas has fallen from grace after having been let go from Real Madrid and has been average at Porto.
The Liverpool Echo were ruminating earlier today that if Casillas were available in this offseason, Everton should make an attempt at bringing him to the Premier League and giving him one last hurrah. In fact, Spanish sources are claiming that he might have already agreed to terms with Merseyside rivals Liverpool.
Despite the attempts at drawing parallels between the Blues signing Nigel Martyn at the age of 37 back in 2003 and the 35-year-old Casillas now, the two situations are quite different as are the ambitions of Everton then and now.
Let us refresh your minds about the circumstances surrounding the signing of Martyn. Going into the 2003-04 season, he was picked up on a free transfer from Leeds United as backup for the first choice Richard Wright. He had lost his place at Leeds to Paul Robinson, who was England’s number one at the time, and didn’t play the entire 2002-03 season.
However, after Wright picked up an injury in the fifth game of the season, Martyn came in and immediately became the starter for the rest of the year. The goalie continued his stellar form the next season as Everton finished 4th. With his performance levels dropping sharply, Wright won his spot back and Martyn went off into retirement after the 2005-06 season.
Casillas’ exit from his lifelong favourite club Real was shrouded in more controversy. The legendary keeper was linked with a lot of the unrest related to Jose Mourinho’s departure from the Madrid giants, with multiple sources claiming that club President Florentino Perez was behind his ousting.
What cannot be forgotten though is that the highly-decorated keeper had become quite error-prone in his last couple of years, with question marks being validly raised over his abilities from set pieces and his concentration levels during games.
Despite having won close to every single trophy known to a footballer, Casillas has continued to flatter to deceive with Porto. While he picked up 23 clean sheets in 43 games for the Portuguese giants, he is also the worst goalkeeper to have played for them in the last fifteen years. Per Opta, he had the highest ratio of goals conceded per game any Porto goalkeeper had since the site started collecting Portuguese league data.
His two seasons in Portugal have been marked with more and more high profile mistakes, and after the boneheaded errors we saw this season from both Joel Robles and Maarten Stekelenburg, Everton simply cannot afford another goalkeeper that they will have ‘carry’ along for the ride, along with the high wages he’s likely to come with.
In closing, the Toffees are in a ‘win now’ situation and need to build for a bright future - while Casillas would be a good veteran presence in the squad, he is not the goalkeeper of the present and the future that Everton needs and we would do well to steer clear.
Iker Casillas’ honours list -
Club (Real Madrid)
Bravo Award: 2000
Best European Goalkeeper: 2010
IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (published 2015)