Real must move past Casillas exit

Iker Casillas (AP Photo)
Iker Casillas (AP Photo)

MELBOURNE - The controversial departure of Real Madrid captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas has created "division" at the Spanish giants and they must put it behind them as soon as possible, coach Rafa Benitez said on Friday.

Real were heavily criticised for a perceived lack of respect for the goalkeeper after he appeared alone at the Bernabeu media room on Sunday to announce his departure from his boyhood club after 16 seasons.

Though Real hastily organised an official send-off on Monday for Casillas, who is heading to Porto, several hundred fans chanted for President Florentino Perez to resign at the ceremony, blaming him for forcing the 34-year-old out.

"I want to talk about Casillas," Benitez told reporters in Melbourne on Friday ahead of Real's International Champions Cup match against Italian club AS Roma.

"When I first got the job, he's the first person I called. We met face to face, we had many discussions," he said through an interpreter.

"We talked in person about many scenarios that would happen. I wish him all the best.

"I don't like the division that is happening within Real Madrid now and that's got to be put behind us."

With Casillas gone, Real are in the market for a new goalkeeper to supplement Costa Rica international Keylor Navas and the inexperienced Fernando Pacheco.

Benitez said Navas was first choice.

"Navas is our number one at the moment," he said.

"I've spoken with him. He's more experienced than our other keepers so he's at the front right now."

Real are also reported to be pursuing Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla and Manchester United's David De Gea.

"In terms of another keeper coming, we've got two keepers that the press is talking about at the moment," Benitez said.

"We've got Kiko Casillas and we've got De Gea.

"For me, any position if we have more competition for positions, it only means that position gets stronger."

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