Monday, December 11, 2017

Real must reunite after Casillas exit – Benitez

Rafael Benitez criticised the animosity surrounding Real Madrid and wants the club to move on from the acrimonious departure of fan favourite Iker Casillas.

The veteran goalkeeper, former club captain and home-grown hero has left the club for Porto, with supporters condemning president Florentino Perez at a ceremony to farewell the 34-year-old this week.

Half a world away from that bitter incident, Benitez and the squad are in Australia for the International Champions Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Speaking ahead of his team’s match against Roma on Saturday, the former Liverpool manager told a news conference he made every attempt to find a solution with the long-serving goalkeeper prior to his exit.

“I want to talk about Casillas,” he said.

“When I first got the job he was the first person I called. We met face to face, we’ve had many discussions. We talked about, in person, many scenarios that would happen.

“I don’t like the division that’s happening within Real Madrid now and that’s got to be put behind us.”

Madrid have become synonymous with big-money moves for star players, bringing in the likes of Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez for huge fees in recent seasons.

Their bitter rivals Barcelona by contrast were lauded for manufacturing a winning dynasty underpinned by products of the famed La Masia youth academy.

The Catalan side have taken the fight to Madrid in the transfer market in recent seasons though, signing Neymar, Luis Suarez and now Arda Turan, while failing in an attempt to lure Paul Pogba from Juventus. 

If Benitez is true to his word, there could be something of a shift in priorities at the Santiago Bernabeu after the new boss – a former player and coach of the Castilla ‘B’ team – promised to turn to the long-neglected Madrid ‘cantera’.

“We’ve got the best players in the world here at Real Madrid. To find even better players, it’s hard,” he said.

“If we do bring in players, we’re competing with many clubs, who have a lot of resources available. It’s not just a matter of a player becoming available. There’s many clubs chasing one player.

“We have a great youth system at Real Madrid. We’ve got great youth players coming through our system. We also have an eye on those players. We’d like to give them a chance coming through.

“We understand that they need high quality but we [will] give them a chance. And we would like to develop our own players.”


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