English side Leeds United are poised to end their search for a goalkeeper by signing Real Madrid’s Kiko Casilla.
Casilla is expected to fly to England early next week to undergo a medical and complete a permanent move from the Bernabeu. Leeds are ready to buy the 32-year-old out of the final 18 months of his contract in Madrid and Real will allow him to leave having seen Casilla drop to third choice after the signing of Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea in August. Casilla, who Real developed in their academy, is trapped behind Courtois and Keylor Navas and has not played for the club this season.
Leeds set a new keeper as a priority in the January window having lost Chelsea loanee Jamal Blackman to a broken leg in November and they moved to negotiate over Casilla’s signature after drawing a line under their attempts to land Newcastle United’s Karl Darlow. United wanted to loan Darlow from St James’ Park but were put off by Newcastle’s £4m asking price. The YEP understands that Fulham’s Fabri was another name on the list of potential signings approved by head coach Marcelo Bielsa but Casilla is set to become the first arrival of the window at Elland Road.
Casilla made his first impression at senior level with Espanyol, a club he joined from Real on a free transfer in 2007 and played for over 100 times. He returned to the Bernabeu in 2015 for a fee of more than £5m. He compiled 30 first-team outings for the Spanish giants but never became a regular and is ready to continue his career in England and the Championship, under Bielsa’s management.
Barring any hitches, the deal should be confirmed in time for next Saturday’s clash with Stoke City, giving Bielsa competition for existing number one Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Peacock-Farrell, 22, has been first choice all term but his form came under scrutiny before Christmas and Bielsa admitted publicly that he would have dropped the Northern Ireland international for a 2-0 win over Bristol City in November had Blackman not suffered a season-ending injury. Confirmation of a new keeper will turn United’s focus to the acquisition of a new winger and a new attacking midfielder, two positions which the club identified for strengthening before the window opened.