Casillas tips De Gea for greatness

Real Madrid and Spain captain Iker Casillias has backed fellow goalkeeper David de Gea to succeed at Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that he wants the youngster to replace the retiring Edwin van der Sar.

Although Atletico Madrid moved quickly to quash the claims about their prized asset, stating that a deal has yet to be completed, Casillas believes that a move to the Premier League will only enhance De Gea’s talents.

"He will soon be fighting for my place. He's a great keeper,” Casillas said in The Sun.

"We have to take care of him because he is the future. He is 20-years-old. He will pension us all off.

"I hope he does great things for his club and the Spanish national team."

De Gea rose to prominence as an 18-year-old after Atletico suffered an injury crisis in goal, with the stopper going on to cement his place in the first-team, as well as becoming a regular fixture in the Spanish under-21 side.

"He will learn a lot from the fact he has started so young. I had it as well,” added Casillas.

"The people of Atletico Madrid have to be so proud that such a great keeper has come out of their academy.

"Everyone has seen what he's been doing and praising his performances. Watching him reminds me a lot of when I started 12 years ago.

"Between us all, we have to look after him. He has a long road in front of him and when he least expects it he will get a call-up to the national team.

"I'm not suddenly discovering De Gea now everyone has seen what he is capable of doing. He's a good professional and a great person and that for me is very important."

De Gea was quick to return the praise to his compatriot, saying that Casillas is a role model and the best goalkeeper in the world.

"I think not just for me but for many keepers, he's a point of reference and an example to follow," he said.

"He has incredible qualities and right now he's the best keeper in the world."

By Matt Maltby