It’s probably fair to say Kiko Casilla’s loan move to Elche from Leeds United did not go to plan. After falling out of favour at Elland Road, the goalkeeper took up the opportunity of a return to La Liga in a bid to get his career back on track.
He claimed a starting spot in Elche at the start of the last season and with two clean sheets in his first four games, he looked to be enjoying himself with the club, who had narrowly escaped relegation to the second tier the previous campaign. However, after some disappointing displays, he was dropped in November by Fran Escriba, the coach at the time, and he never regained his place in the side.
Throughout the entire campaign he made just 14 league appearances and despite the expectations of most, he will not be staying at the Spanish club. As such, with a year remaining on his contract in West Yorkshire, the Whites have a decision to make regarding the 35-year-old’s future.
Casilla hasn’t been seen at Thorp Arch since his exit last summer and after agreeing to the loan move, he packed his bags with no intention of returning. That was made abundantly clear in his first interview after leaving the Whites.
“Six months ago I had the thought of returning to the Spanish league,” Casilla told AS last summer after a spending a season behind Illan Meslier in the pecking order at Leeds. “I want to thank Leeds, especially Victor Orta, for all the facilities they gave me to leave. He knows what I can give to this club.
“It is a normal and current option until the end of the season, but when it ends, if all goes well, there would be no problems to continue. My intention is to stay in Spain.”
Casilla reiterated that thought a few months later in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, insisting his time at Leeds had come to an end: “It will be difficult for me to fulfil the year I have left [at Leeds]. When I left there it was because my time there is over.
“I think I will not have problems with the club because they behaved very well with me because I asked to leave and they never put any impediment on me, but they gave me all the facilities and that is appreciated. When you have a bad time there, I’ve been through a lot and that is clear, in the end what you want is to leave and I have been able to leave.”
It’s clear that if Casilla is to report to Thorp Arch once more this summer, his return would be a reluctant one. Interestingly, Leeds could be exploring their options between the sticks, with depth and competition certainly something worth addressing.
Meslier will retain his role as the club’s first choice shot stopper, but an experienced number two wouldn’t go amiss with Kristoffer Klaesson and Dani van den Heuvel, the club’s only other options. It’s highly unlikely that the controversial Casilla will return to fill that role at this stage and according to reports elsewhere, the club are considering cutting ties with the Spaniard altogether by cancelling his contract.
A return to Elland Road wouldn’t exactly be popular with the supporters either given his stay has been marred by the charge and subsequent ban he received in 2020 for his use of racist language in a Championship clash against Charlton Athletic. As such, if Leeds can’t find a suitor for him, be it in Spain or elsewhere, releasing him from his contract could be the preferred plan of action for both parties.