Kiko Casilla was the first signing of the January 2019 transfer window on a free transfer from Real Madrid. During his time at Real Madrid Casilla picked up one La Liga (2017) winners medal and three Champions League (2016, 2017, 2018) winners medals. With an impressive pedigree the signing was a bit of a coup for Leeds United but the calamitous performance against Derby in the play-off second leg left some questions hanging over him. Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s move to Burnley this summer left Casilla as the clear first choice between the sticks with a point to prove this season.
The opening game of the season against Bristol brought back memories of the play-off defeat as he charged out of his area to clear the ball. But Marcelo Bielsa was happy with Casilla’s performance and praised his ability to 'read the situation'. His performances since have been much less heart stopping, particularly against Salford and Wigan when he pulled off some fantastic saves. Casilla seems to be adapting to the Championship and is showing what a quality keeper he is. But what does Leeds United’s all-time greatest goalkeeper have to say? Nigel Martyn, speaking exclusively to 888sport on Monday gave his views on Kiko Casilla.
“He came partway through last season and the club were doing well. He’s a senior player with lots of experience so it was a good signing. I just think that he made high-profile mistakes during the run-in and that is when you have to be at your most consistent. Because he made a couple of errors at that point people jumped onto his back a bit and what he’s got to do now is string performances together where he is very consistent. He doesn’t have to make great saves. You just cut the errors out and do what you should be doing. The saves will look after themselves.”
“He’s very keen to come for high balls and in the Championship with lots of bodies around sometimes you can get caught out doing that. Choosing the right time to come for his crosses is what he needs to do and he will be working hard on that. Let’s hope he has a great season.”
Casilla is a true sweeper keeper, comfortable with the ball at his feet he completed more successful passes that any Wigan player last weekend. His performances have been calmer since Bristol and he is adjusting to the more physical side of the Championship but there will always be times when he has to weight up the risk versus reward of coming out to clear the ball or make a tackle leaving the crowd with their hearts in their mouths. Nigel Martyn was forced to play as a reluctant midfield whilst at school, not until he left did he take up the gloves. How would he have found taking on a sweeper keeper role in the modern game?
“It wasn’t my best strength but I guess I’m very old-fashioned in my outlook on a goalkeeper. First and foremost you have to be able to stop the ball going into the net. Sometimes I see keepers of a slightly lesser standard being put in because they’re good with their feet. I wonder if that’s the right approach. But I can see the importance of it and if I played in this era I would have to work really hard on it and improve in that area. It’s something that became more important as my career went on.”
Read the full 888sport interview with Nigel Martyn here.
Nigel Martyn gives his views on Kiko Casilla and the sweeper keeper role