EXCLUSIVE

Noel Whelan has expressed his shock that Kiko Casilla has been linked with a return to Spain less than six months after signing for Leeds United.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker claimed the Spanish goalkeeper is “a bit of a freak” in terms of his playing style but also has real pedigree and it would make “no sense” to let him go this summer.

Sun journalist Alan Nixon claimed via his personal Twitter account on Sunday that Leeds are already in the hunt to sign a replacement for Casilla amid the possibility of him heading back to Spain.

The keeper, 32, was the only first team player that Marcelo Bielsa signed in January of this year and was immediately installed as the number one following his Elland Road arrival.

“On one side, he’s a bit of a freak in the way he rushes out of goal and the risks he takes, but to sign him on a four-and-a-half year contract in January and then let him go six months later makes no sense,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“If you commit to a club, then you should properly commit, and it’s the same from a club’s point of view. I know Casilla is a bit erratic but the Championship is a learning curve and you have to learn the division.

“Give him a bit of time. There is time to get better. Yes, he was a let-down in the play-offs against Derby, but that can be ironed out in time and during pre-season.

“Casilla has come from a huge club and to say he is not the answer is just too premature. Unless you have £25million to find a top goalkeeper, you have to work with what you’ve got. You can’t just be rushing to sell players.”

It would certainly rank as something of a surprise were Casilla to quit so early into his Elland Road career, given the lengths Leeds went to sign him in the winter window.

United bought the one-time Spain international out of his Real Madrid contract and handed him a lucrative deal worth more than £30,000-a-week.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that the club are to sell a midfielder for a “significant” fee after the Marcelo Bielsa green light.