Under pressure Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has hit back at his critics by declaring that Iker Casillas chose to leave the club and was not forced out.
The 34-year-old goalkeeper was under contract with Real for another two seasons but decided to leave this summer for Porto amid constant speculation that Manchester United’s David de Gea will eventually join the Spanish giants.
Perez held a press conference at the Bernabeu stadium alongside Casillas on Monday to clarify his position on the keeper, who had been with the club for 25 years.
“Iker leaves because it was his wish and we had to accept it,” Perez told the Spanish media. “No-one at Real has asked him to leave.
“He has had a lot of pressure in the last two years and he had an offer from FC Porto and asked us to consider it. I would have liked for Iker to have retired at Real Madrid but I understand his decision. Iker has all the right in the world to begin a new stage in his career and he joins a big club.”
Constant speculation about De Gea’s possible arrival put Casillas’s position in jeopardy. De Gea is under contract with United for another season.
“We will now look at who can join us,” Perez said. “De Gea is a magnificent goalkeeper but he belongs to another club, a friendly club of Real.”
Casillas has signed a two-year contract with Porto, coached by former Spain and Real goalkeeper Julen Lopetegui.
“I only take the good things with me,” Casillas said. “I will remember the trophies, the great times and all the happy moments I’ve experienced. I am now an FC Porto player but I will always be a Madrid fan.”
This is turning into a nightmare scenario for Perez. There is no doubt that he wanted Casillas to leave, but Real and Perez have botched this departure at every turn, and with fans chanting ‘Perez out” at the Casillas going away event at the Bernebeu.
The only way for Perez to save face with the fans it to land a superstar, but the only one available is Paul Pogba and he apparently prefers Barcelona to Madrid.