Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has said he believes Iker Casillas was dropped by Real Madrid last season because he attempted to ease tensions between Spain internationals at the Bernabeu and Barcelona.
Goalkeeper and national team captain Casillas was axed by former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho and Del Bosque feels his attempts to smooth the waters after increasingly confrontational Real-Barcelona matches was the reason why.
"It's true that in difficult moments for the national team, when the Real-Barca matches got a little strange, he helped the team to move on and continue winning things like the European Championship [in 2012]," the Spain coach told the Onda Cero radio station.
"This did not go down well, and perhaps had a detrimental effect also on Iker. He was a key figure in fostering harmony in the national team."
As games between Real and Barcelona intensified in bitterness, fears were voiced that Real’s Spain internationals, including Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso were at loggerheads with Barca stars such as Xavi and Carles Puyol.
Casillas, who has remained on the bench under new Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, held talks with Xavi and Puyol in order to defuse tensions.
Del Bosque could opt to replace him with Barca’s in-form Victor Valdes for Spain's World Cup Group I qualifier against Finland in Helsinki on Friday.