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Many fans relieved as Kiko heads back to Spain
Friday, 9th Jul 2021 18:14 by Tim Whelan

The Daily Mirror have reported today that Kiko Casilla is moving to Spanish side Elche, initially on loan, but with an option to convert that into a permanent transfer. Reaction has been mixed on social media, but some Leeds fans are glad to see the back of him.

The Mirror have said the 34 year-old’s reasons for wanting the move are because he wants to play first-team football again, and to see more of his family. Obviously it’s been very difficult for him to get back to Spain on a regular basis over the last 15 months because of Covid.

The move to Elche has been eased by Victor Orta’s past links with the Spanish club, having been sporting director there during the 2014/15 season. The La Liga side have agreed to pay part of Casilla’s wages for the next 12 months, though the report doesn’t say how much.

Casilla is said to be on £30,000 a week (more than his replacement Illan Meslier) and his current deal still has two years to run. So that raises the question of what will happen for 2022/3, whether the loan will be extended, or his contract cancelled to allow a permanent deal to happen sooner.

Casilla made just five first team appearances last season, and two of those were right at the end of the campaign when nothing much was at stake. And one of the others was in the FA Cup game at Crawley where his goalkeeping was blamed by some fans for our defeat, though Bielsa’s decision to field an inexperienced line-up on the day was equally responsible.

Kiko never re-established himself as first choice after his eight game ban for racially abusing Charlton’s Jonathan Leko, and his suspension was one of the reasons Leeds didn’t suffer a late-season collapse at the end of 2019/20, in the way we had the year before. Kiko’s erratic goalkeeping was partly responsible for our failure to win promotion in 2018/19, most notably his error for Derby’s first goal in the home play-off semi-final.

But despite his public failings, Marcelo Bielsa was said to greatly value his experience and professionalism, and credits him with being a great help to Meslier. Leeds are now said to be looking for another goalkeeper as back-up for Meslier, as 19 year-old Elia Caprile is thought to be too inexperienced to be able to deputise in a first team game just yet.


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