This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has turned out since being signed/sold and using statistical figures and statements from key figures to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
The relationship between shared Leeds United supporters and January 2019 arrival Kiko Casilla went from great highs to great lows, between the moment he put pen to paper on a contract at Elland Road in the winter and the season ending in May without promotion into the Premier League.
Fans (via Leeds Live) hailed the former Real Madrid shot-stopper as a ‘quality’ addition and being a statement of intent when the Elland Road outfit announced his arrival as a free transfer on a four-and-a-half-year deal, but came to lament his rash decision making and ‘shocking’ distribution (via HITC).
His contribution to the Play-Off Semi-Final second leg at home to Derby County particularly left a saw note for many, with Leeds Live’s Beren Cross describing his performance as: “Premier League goalkeepers have done much for the reputation of the sweeper ‘keeper role in modern football over the past couple of seasons, but this was a night when all of the frailties of that high-risk role were laid bare.
“Casilla has had a few difficult moments during the final weeks of the regular campaign and, just after he came out of Pride Park unscathed, this was a torrid night for him.”
Word that Casilla may have been allowed to leave in the summer saw calls of hope and desire from corners of the Elland Road faithful (via HITC), but it was not the Spaniard who left West Yorkshire in the end, and instead it was academy graduate Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
The Darlington-born goalkeeper opted to leave his boyhood side for Burnley, with Leeds receiving £2.5million for his services (BBC), and the transfer now looks like 100 per cent profit for the Whites, with Peacock-Farrell serving as Sean Dyche’s third choice behind Nick Pope and Joe Hart while Casilla appears to have learned from his errors.
No goalkeeper in the Championship has kept more clean sheets than Casilla has this season, with Blackburn Rovers’ Christian Walton the only other shot-stopper to keep four from the opening seven games of the campaign (TransferMarkt).
Communication at the back certainly seems to have improved over the more recent fixtures, with the erratic nature displayed at Bristol City replaced with a confident presence between the sticks without denting his bravery to rush out and claim possession.
Leeds boasting one of the best defences in the second-tier has helped Casilla, too, with the Whites only allowing an average of 8.7 shots per game – the second-fewest to Brentford (8.3), per WhoScored data – and averaging the second-most tackles with 19.7 to Hull City’s 21.3.
This has meant Casilla has only needed to pull off a total of 14 saves, eight of which have come from efforts from outside the box – only Preston North End’s Declan Rudd and Millwall’s Bartosz Bialkowski (10 each) have faced more from outside of their areas – and six of his total 14 came against Barnsley last Sunday.
Casilla’s distribution has also improved, with the 32-year-old averaging just 0.1 inaccurate short balls per ninety minutes in the second-tier this season, compared to 0.5 in his maiden campaign, while also averaging more accurate long balls (5.3 to 4.7).
It is impossible to say how well or how poorly Peacock-Farrell would have fared in the same seven Championship fixtures if he had been the one who remained at Elland Road in the summer, but Casilla is putting in the displays to justify Leeds’ decision to retain his services, and make the fee received for his former teammate nothing but profit.
Leeds fans, how would you describe Casilla’s start to the season? Let us know in the comments below…
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