Leeds set sights on top La Liga custodian as successor to divisive star

Date published: Tuesday 2nd March 2021 2:01 - James Marshment

Fernando Pacheco Alaves goalkeeper

Leeds United are reportedly planning an approach to sign one of La Liga’s top goalkeepers as a replacement for Kiko Casilla.

The goalkeeper moved to Leeds 26 months ago in a high-profile signing from Real Madrid.

However, after a catalogue of errors, Casilla has lost his place this season to impressive young French youngster Illan Meslier.

A well-publicised ban for racist language has also not helped Casilla’s cause.

The 34-year-old has played three times for Leeds this season – with one of those appearances resulting in  a 3-0 FA Cup humilation at Crawley.

And as one of the club’s highest-paid stars, it would be no surprise to see him return to Spain. Casilla will have two years left on the four and a half year deal he signed at Elland Road. However, they could grant him a free transfer back to Spain were a suitor to come forward.

While Meslier has impressed, Marcelo Bielsa is keen to bring in some experienced competition for the Leeds No 1.

With that in mind, Todofijaches claims the Whites are on the trail of Alaves keeper Fernando Pacheco.

The 28-year-old has established himself as one of La Liga’s top keeper’s despite his side’s struggles at the wrong end of the table.

While his contract still has two years to run, he could earn himself a serious pay-rise by moving to the Premier League.

Leeds are not alone in their pursuit of Pacheco, however, with Southampton also said to be keen. There is also rival interest from La Liga in the form of Sevilla.

Aware of the interest in their keeper, Alaves are reported to have placed a €10m asking price on the keeper. That is unlikely to deter either Premier League side, however.

Pachecho has eight caps for Spain U21s and has made 145 appearances for Alaves since a 2015 move from Real Madrid.


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Bielsa speaks out for Casilla

While Casilla’s exit at Leeds wouldn’t come as a surprise, he will likely leave with a ringing endorsement from Leeds boss Bielsa.

Despite the Spaniard’s lack of action this season, Bielsa has stressed his faith in the custodian in light of some fierce criticism.

Speaking earlier this year, Bielsa said: “No, I fully trust in Kiko.

“I will do the utmost possible to help him. I think the treatment Kiko has suffered ignores the fact he’s a player who played 40 games for Real Madrid.

“Apart from whether his performances were good or bad, we forget all the thing he has done to get the team promoted. People also don’t consider how he’s being treated publicly given the situation that he had to go through.”

Bielsa added: “I believe in him, his teammates believe in him and we are close to him. We value him as a person and a footballer.

“We accept what people think of him in the media. But we know his past and we know his conditions. We care about him a lot as a human being.”

READ MORE: Raphinha fears ease as Leeds devise clever plan to defy Liverpool, Barcelona

 

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