Iker Casillas can forget about a potential move to Arsenal following the arrival of David Ospina at the Emirates Stadium.
The curious case of Real Madrid's stricken goalkeeper and captain has filled countless lines in Spanish newspapers already this summer. The consensus seems to be that the 33-year-old wants out of the Bernabeu and Spain altogether, but it appears there is no place for him in the Premier League.
The two Manchester clubs already have firm No.1s in their ranks while Liverpool and Chelsea both have at least two quality, high-earning goalkeepers on their books. Arsenal was the only possible place for Casillas to go. Wojciech Szczesny's future as Arsenal's first choice was in doubt and Arsene Wenger had just lost two goalkeepers in the form of Lukasz Fabianski and Emiliano Viviano.
The natural choice
Not only were the Gunners in need of a goalkeeper, but Wenger was looking to bring big, established names to north London. Despite his obvious struggles at the World Cup with Spain, Casillas would qualify in that both brackets, but it appears his availability has been firmly ignored by Wenger.
Arsenal have instead decided to sign Colombia goalkeeper Ospina from Nice. The 25-year-old is relatively unknown by Premier League fans with only his World Cup heroics forcing him into the limelight. Wenger has since assured Arsenal fans that Ospina will provide Szczesny with stern competition.
Ospina represents a budget option for Arsenal but comes from Ligue 1, where Wenger still keeps a close eye on things. Some of his best signings have been plucked from France and there is nothing to suggest Opsina will be a waste of money.
With Damian Martinez set to be promoted from Arsenal's Under-21 squad, it completes the three-man line-up that most Premier League teams adopt for their goalkeepers. It also brings an end to Casillas's hopes of moving to London.
The right decision?
A chance to sign a living legend like Casillas is one few managers would turn down. Wenger would have undoubtedly been tempted, but his faith in Szczesny has shone through in this instance. Casillas would have demanded first-team football at the Emirates Stadium and, at the expense on Szczesny, a move to Arsenal may have proved too costly to Arsenal's future.
Wenger has often spoken how signing a big name can "kill" one of his young prospects. In this case, Szczesny's Arsenal career would have been in serious doubt. The Pole deserves first team football and would almost certainly force an exit if relegated to the bench for a prolonged period.
Casillas is clearly struggling for top form and signing him represents a massive risk. Six-figure wages (he was reported to be demanding £100,000-a-week) on a long-term deal would run the bill into the tens of millions with no guarantee that he would rekindle his best form. Meanwhile Szczesny continues to improve.
Spanish news outlet Vozpopuli–credited for breaking Arsenal's strange deal with Real Sociedad for Carlos Vela earlier this summer–believe Casillas has next to no options after failing to secure a move to Arsenal.
Casillas had reportedly told Real Madrid to prepare for his departure and Carlo Ancelotti reacted by signing Keylor Navas. Not only that, but the leaking of Arsenal's interest has mainly been the work of Casillas's representatives–again, according to reports–but has not come to nothing.
There is now the unthinkable situation where the Spain and Real Madrid legend could find himself as third-choice for Los Blancos. Either that, or Diego Lopez will have to leave.
Either way, Casillas is likely to find himself watching from the Bernabeu bench once again this season. He gambled on his reputation, hoping it would convince Arsenal to sign him. Instead, Wenger signed a virtual unknown from Ligue 1–shocker horror–but it may prove to correct decision in the near future with Szczesny's career on the rise and Casillas's on a slippery slope downwards.
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