A rumor that has been on the horizon and in the minds of all Fire fans in the last three windows is the arrival of Real Madrid legend Iker Casillas. With a wealth of individual and club honors, and a World Cup winners’ medal around his neck, San Iker is rightly considered one of the greatest and most successful goalkeepers of all time.
His saintly nickname is the direct result of his ability to produce miraculous saves. He is an athletic goalkeeper, known for his quick reactions and great shot-blocking abilities. We know his accomplishments, from the Champions League to the Euros to the World Cup. There is no doubt that Iker is one of the all time greats.
But the grammatical tense matters here. He was a phenomenal keeper. His time at FC Porto has been rough. He is past his prime and the Fire would be wise to spend money elsewhere, whether that be a younger keeper or the ever elusive Number 10.
The Fire have been courting Casillas since at least late last season. After months of back-and-forth on transfer rumor forums and ITK Twitter, Casillas signalled that he wasn’t headed to Chicago any time soon. But he left the door open to further conversation once his contract with Porto ends this summer. By the time, he’ll be 37.
Some fans would love to have Iker suit up in Fire Red. I wouldn’t. MLS has become a much more competitive league since David Beckham, the original Designated Player, joined the LA Galaxy back in 2007. Back then, the key goal of most clubs was notoriety and signing massive stars, which led to moderate success.
For every Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane that featured on billboards and put butts in seats, there were a lot more who flopped. Players like Florent Sinama Pongolle who killed the spirits of Fire fans. Kris Boyd. Rais M’Bolhi. Rafael Marquez. Most recently, Andrea Pirlo. I could go on, but you get the point. Aging veterans don’t always work out.
Which brings me to Bastian Schweinsteger. Look, I love the guy, but it is unreasonable to expect another phenomenal season from him, or for him to contribute the whole season. Keeping Basti fresh will take its toll on the team if he can’t play every game. Constant change is usually not good for soccer teams.
MLS 2.0— or 3.0 or whatever version we’re on now— says these aging veteran legends are rarely worth the price. I tend to agree. This season, signed players have all trended youngsters, with more promising rookies or players in or near their prime. To wit:
So far this winter there have been 58 overseas signings in @MLS, including guys who are returning (Kitchen, Henry), guys who had loan option exercised (Artur, Elis, etc) and guys coming on loan (lots).— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) January 25, 2018
Only 12 of the 58 have been 27 or older, and just 4 are 30+.
This trend holds up even if you only look at Designated Players. This transfer window saw 18-year-old Ezequiel Barco sign for Atlanta, 19-year-old Diego Rossi at LAFC, 27-year-old Jonathan Dos Santos at LA Galaxy, and 28-year-old Carlos Vela also at LAFC. Those are players that those teams expect can support and play well for them in the coming years, not just one year or two.
Fire fans should want that type of player. Ambitious? Sure. But if the Fire have money to spend maybe they can fork some over for a player that isn’t at the tail end of their careers.
Even if the Fire have their hearts set on a veteran goalkeeper, there are surely better options out there. Joel Robles, currently on the bench at Everton, is out of contract in the summer. He’s solid keeper with a little more in the tank than Iker has, and at substantially lower cost. Even if that’s not workable, the Fire need someone who can claim the goalkeeper spot and lock it down for the foreseeable future.
The Fire signing Iker would be a bad idea. Let’s put that money to work elsewhere.
Agree, Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.