Spain manager Vicente del Bosque has informed Iker Casillas and David de Gea that neither of them will be his No.1 goalkeeper on a full-time basis, and says both must get used to rotating the starting position.
De Gea was included ahead of Casillas for the first time at the weekend for Spain’s comfortable victory over Luxembourg after the Real Madrid icon’s costly error in the shock defeat to Slovenia last week.
The Manchester United ‘keeper has long been earmarked as Casillas’ successor, although his promotion above the 158-capped 33-year-old perhaps came sooner than De Gea might have expected.
De Gea’s stock has never been higher, while that of Casillas has reached a nadir, with the former establishing himself among the world’s best thanks to sustained spell of excellent form for Manchester United.
However, Del Bosque has clarified that De Gea will not be his automatic first-choice, but rather will rotate with Casillas until the former decides to lower the curtain on his international career, a right he has unquestionably earned.
"We had decided to make changes and we have to make sure there is an easy transition,” Del Bosque told reporters.
“Both can play. They have to get used to the change bit by bit, as much David as Iker.”
Del Bosque had claimed before the encounter with Luxembourg that Casillas would not be dropped off the back of his latest error, although he was no longer able to ignore the clamour for De Gea to be afforded an opportunity he has deserved.
De Gea arrived for international duty riding a wave of optimism following his match-winning performance for Manchester United against Everton, during which he produced a string of breathtaking saves.
With Casillas’ displays under great scrutiny following Spain’s disaster at the World Cup, where he was more culpable than most, there had been calls for De Gea to be picked for each of his country’s two most recent Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Del Bosque resisted, however, only for Casillas to commit what transpired to be a costly error as Spain were defeated 2-1 by Slovenia, a first qualification loss for the two-time champions in eight years.
Real Madrid link
Casillas’ demise for his country and a less frequent role for his club, last season at least, has resulted in a great deal of speculation, with De Gea mentioned as a replacement with both Spain and Real Madrid.
There have been renewed links in recent days, although Manchester United will be prepared to pull out all the stops to extend and improve De Gea’s contract, which will expire at the end of next season.
De Gea earns £52,000-per-week at Old Trafford, but can expect a significant rise in salary given his performances and the club’s willingness to spend so excessively under the direction of vice-chairman Ed Woodward.