Alan Nixon is reporting that Spanish goalkeeper Kiko Casilla is looking to return to his home country this summer, only six months after joining the Yorkshire club – a move that could see Bailey Peacock-Farrell reinstated as the club’s number one heading into the new season.
Leeds are 9/2 favourites with SkyBet to win next season’s Championship – you can get even better value with mightytips.com – and moving their error-prone Spanish goalkeeper out of the way could see their defence be solid enough to mount a true title challenge once again.
In what seemed to be an astute piece of business, the former Real Madrid shot-stopper joined Leeds on a free transfer from the La Liga giants in January. His debut was an excellent performance away at Rotherham, which included an incredible save from a Will Vaulks effort.
The 32-year-old is known for rushing off of his line for any ball that gets in behind the backline. However, it was his rashness that single-handedly gave Derby a chance in last season’s play-off semi-final. Leeds practically had one foot in the final before a mix-up between Casilla and Liam Cooper gifted The Rams a goal that kick-started their comeback.
But it is not the Spaniard that the Yorkshire club should look to hang on to this summer. Leeds should try to hold on to Northern Irish international Peacock-Farrell, as reports suggest Premier League side Burnley are sniffing around the 22-year-old.
If both Casilla and Peacock-Farrell are to leave Elland Road this summer, it would leave Leeds with no senior goalkeepers with only a few weeks until the season starts. Although Peacock-Farrell is not the best keeper in the Championship, ranking 26th for total saves last season, Leeds were top of the league until Casilla displaced the youngster in January.
The exit of Casilla could free up wages to be used to secure more important players such as Kalvin Phillips, who reportedly wants a similar salary to that of the keeper. While Peacock-Farrell would offer a good enough replacement should a return to Spain be on the cards.
A key difference between the two is their age, Casilla is 32, while Peacock-Farrell is only 22-years-old, which leaves a lot of room for development given he is miles away from the prime years of a goalkeeper.
Last season both keepers had similar averages for saves per game, with Casilla averaging 1.9 saves and Peacock-Farrell averaging two per game. The discrepancy between the two comes in the distribution of the ball, with Casilla having a higher success rate in passing than the youngster, 74% compared to BPF’s 67%.
With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of both shot-stoppers at the club and the season fast approaching, Leeds must sort out their goalkeeping position and fast. If it comes down to a choice between the two, then Peacock-Farrell should be in the number one shirt against Bristol City.