Victims of notorious time vortex Football Manager — previously known as Championship Manager — know very well that one of the first orders of business at the start of each season is to establish which talented players are on the last year of their contract, then track them over the course of the campaign so they can be snatched up for no transfer fee a year later. Reds fans have first-hand experience with Bosman signings as well, having both gained and lost players to contract expiry over the years, most recently through the signing of Joël Matip last summer.
It is a rare occurrence that clubs allow their top players to run down their contracts, however, and normally, the age range of players available on free transfers skews towards the higher end.
Exactly that is the case with Iker Casillas. The Real Madrid legend and current Porto stopper turned 36 this weekend, and his refusal to sign a contract extension this spring means that he is available for whoever is in the market for experience at the goalkeeper position. They don't come much more experienced than the Spaniard, who has amassed nearly a thousand senior appearances for Real, Porto and Spain since his debut in 1999. They don't come much more accomplished either, and the former Galactico is a World Cup, two-time Euro Cup, three-time Champions League, and five-time La Liga champion.
So can he still play? This season, he conceded 23 goals in 43 appearances for los Dragões, and kept a clean sheet on 23 occasions. Granted the accumulated firepower of the Liga NOS can't hold a candle to the Premier League, but a 77% save ratio is still a tremendous effort from the veteran keeper.
All of which is to say that according to Luis Nieto of AS, Liverpool are the front runners to pick up the Spanish legend this summer, and may already have offered him a pre-contract. The silence from club-connected journalists on Merseyside may indicate that AS are merely speculating, but it is an interesting prospect nonetheless. If Casillas is happy to provide experience and cover for a squad embarking on only their second Champions League participation since 2010, then the team will be all the better for it. If he upsets the long-term prospect of Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius, however, then second thoughts must be had.
Whatever the outcome, this is an unexpected rumour, and in a transfer window where it seems all the club's targets are known and we're just counting down days until deals we've known about for months are confirmed, that is at the very least refreshing.