If there were two offseason stories that seemed to follow Manchester United around all year long, it was the ongoing David de Gea contract situation and that manager Louis van Gaal would have a lot of money to spend on transfers this summer.
All season long, everyone wondered if David de Gea would sign a new contract at Old Trafford or if he would leave to join Real Madrid, who made no effort to hide their interest in him.
Meanwhile the club made it clear that Louis van Gaal would have the money he needs to fill United’s various needs, most notably in central defense and in central midfield. Various names were linked with Manchester United, as is normally the case, and it looked as if United would act quickly once the season ended to secure their new players. This was further believed when the team locked up Dutch winger Memphis Depay in early May.
However as the month of June comes to a close and teams will begin re-assembling for preseason training, there is one thing everyone has been left wondering: why hasn’t anything happened yet?
The answer to that question starts and ends with David de Gea. Currently, de Gea is the first piece of the puzzle, United are handcuffed right now in regards to what their transfer priorities are. Is their priority a central defender or are they going to need a replacement goalkeeper? De Gea is the first piece of the puzzle, nothing can happen until his situation is resolved, and once it is, everything will start happening quickly.
If that’s the case then you would think United would like to wrap up this deal as quickly as possible so they could concentrate on finishing up their other moves and getting ready for the new season. But of course it’s not that easy as there are still a lot of things getting in their way, both at the club and personal level.
One of the biggest reasons the de Gea transfer saga won’t go away is because the two clubs can’t agree on how much he’s worth. Reports say that Real Madrid value the goalkeeper at around £12 million, a laughable number considering United paid £18 million plus add ons for de Gea in 2011 when he wasn’t even half the goalkeeper he is today.
United have put his value in the region of £30 million and are ready to play hardball by holding onto de Gea and losing him for free at the end of the year if Real Madrid don’t meet their price. When it comes to players that want to join Los Blancos and have expiring contracts, Real Madrid have been known to underpay for those players, but it’s clear United are not going to allow the Spanish giants to bully them this time.
The other big question is does de Gea even want to go to Real Madrid? Throughout this whole transfer saga there have been various “reports” stating he has, but since, de Gea has stayed remarkably quiet on the matter.
Here’s what we do know: de Gea has turned down a £200,000 a week contract extension with United or at the very least he hasn’t signed it yet, de Gea’s Manchester area house has been put up for sale and his girlfriend wants him to come back to Spain.
At the end of May, de Gea said he would meet with his family to discuss his future. That meeting by all accounts took place, though we don’t actually officially know what was decided. There of course have been “reports” that de Gea has told his teammates that he’ll be leaving and joining Real Madrid, but frankly, with all the players away on vacation, unless one of the players went running to the media after receiving a text from de Gea, how exactly did the media catch wind of this?
In almost every other situation, when you have a player who wants to join a certain team and that team wants him, eventually the player steps in and forces the move through. De Gea has done nothing to try and force the move through, which is odd if he did truly want to leave.
The true domino effect of de Gea is all the other players that would be involved. Real Madrid currently have longtime goalkeeper (and current Spanish No. 1) Iker Casillas under contract. There have been “reports” saying de Gea is refusing to join Los Blancos until they get rid of Casillas, so that he will be the undisputed No. 1 goalkeeper.
This is where things get tricky and come full circle. Casillas is owed close to €17 million in loyalty bonuses from Real this season. If Real chooses to sell him, they still owe him that money. The only way they could get out of it is if Casillas goes to Real and asks to be sold. So you have one goalkeeper who doesn’t want to come until the other is gone, another goalkeeper who doesn’t want to leave, and a club that wants the first one to arrive and wants the second one to leave on his own will. Quite the pickle for Real.
To make matters worse, United have decided that unsettled Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos is at the top of their wishlist. Obviously the two clubs can’t agree on a price on the defender, United have offered a straight de Gea for Ramos swap but that was rejected as Madrid believe the defender is worth a lot more. Meanwhile, United are willing to use de Gea as leverage in their pursuit of Ramos.
For a transfer saga that has gone on for quite some time, it doesn’t look like it will be ending anytime soon. Louis van Gaal has ordered de Gea to report for preseason training by Monday if no deal is done, which could see de Gea leave for United’s preseason tour of the United States instead of going to Australia with Real Madrid.
In a summer filled with anticipation so far the action has been minimal. David de Gea is the first domino, once his situation is resolved, the other pieces will begin to fall as either United will be able to go after their other targets, or Real Madrid will move on and go after their other goalkeeper options, creating a whole different domino effect.