Guilleme Balague believes David de Gea has now pushed Iker Casillas down the pecking order and has become Spain’s No.1 choice goalkeeper.
De Gea made his full competitive Spain debut against Luxembourg yesterday and kept a clean sheet in their 4-0 win to get himself off to the perfect start with his international career.
Casillas has been on a downward slope for over 12 months now and Balague feels the time has come for De Gea to be considered the first choice goalkeeper by Vicente del Bosque.
“It was kind of spoiled in a way by the Slovakia defeat, in which Casillas made a mistake, because some people might have thought Casillas was being punished by not starting against Luxembourg.
“Casillas is a very good reactive goalkeeper but not so good proactively.”
“But De Gea was always set to play in Luxembourg and even though Del Bosque says he is going to rotate – part of a “sweet transition” as he calls it – and we may see Casillas from time to time, De Gea is going to be the No 1 for a bit.
“The first goal Casillas conceded against Slovakia was a mistake.
“It came off the back off a fantastic save but it shows what Casillas is at the moment and what he has perhaps always been: a very good reactive goalkeeper but not so good proactively.
“When the ball came to him, he swerved a bit when he should have stayed on his feet and made himself bigger. I used to be a goalkeeper myself but have been also told this by other ‘keepers.
“That was basically the last straw for Casillas but he was always going to be replaced by De Gea.”
Del Bosque admits that De Gea’s inclusion is all part of a transition to bring him into the team: “We had decided to make changes and we have to make sure there is an easy transition.
“Both can play. They have to get used to the change bit by bit, as much David as Iker.
“We have taken steps forward with this squad. We have over 30 players who could be called up, everything depends on the fitness of each one.
“We have to carry on picking up points and improving the way we play.”
Without a shadow of a doubt, De Gea is the future of Spanish goalkeeping with the national team and although Casillas is still only 33 which is relatively young for a goalkeeper, he has been de-throned by a man ten years his junior in De Gea.
De Gea’s progression to this stage with Spain is richly deserved as he has been magnificent for Manchester United over the past two years and as he is only 23, he is just going to keep getting better and better.