Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph might be on a mission to disgrace themselves in the quickest way possible this summer, but there is one man who is still going about his business quietly, despite being involved in one of the biggest potential transfers of the summer.
David De Gea has been constantly linked with Real Madrid this summer and even before the transfer window opened, was dogged by rumours of an impending move to the Spanish capital, but now with Manchester United playing hardball over the transfer, and Real Madrid seemingly deciding to wait to land De Gea on a free and offer him a huge signing on bonus, things could be set to roll on for another year.
While that might be an issue for some players, had a transfer that seemed so certain at one time start to look increasingly unlikely as the days roll on, De Gea and United have no issue staying together for another year – and the fans would welcome him back during the first home game of the season with open arms. And relief. A whole lot of relief.
Now that Real Madrid have handed the number one shirt to Keylor Navas and paid to bring Kiko Casilla back to the club, they could theoretically go the season without De Gea – both Navas and Casilla are top keepers and have experience, with Navas already having spent a season at the club, knowing how it works and knowing the politics and the nature of the fans.
Things at Real Madrid work like no other club in the world, and while De Gea might have spent a few seasons at United, who are hardly small fish in a big pond, he is not fully prepared for life at the Bernabeu – no one is until they’ve actually experienced it. Fans can turn on a player so quickly, as Iker Casillas found out, and 25 years of loyal – not to mention successful service – can go down the drain.
Quotes that have emerged from Casillas’ agent in the press today about Florentino Perez and Real Madrid are alarming at best, and while De Gea won’t be overly concerned about the agent of what looks like a bitter former player, the fact that Casillas was once the darling of not just the Madrid fans, but also the board and president speaks volumes.
Raul was also pushed out the back door, and that is just the start in a long list of players who gave it their all for Real Madrid and saw little in return.
At United, De Gea is loved and universally praised. He would do well to remember the fact that the club stuck by him through the start of his career in England, when people were writing him off and calling for his head. Fergie persisted and told him to bulk up, De Gea paid attention, so much so he even went as far as stealing doughnuts from Tesco, and now he is arguably the best stopper in England, and one of the best in the world.
Had he encountered the same issues at Madrid, there is no chance they would have given him time and support – he would probably be at Getafe right about now. Time is not a luxury on offer in Madrid, and one mistake will be remembered far longer than ten saves will.
United, for their part seem to now be determined to keep De Gea, at least for another season, and why shouldn’t they? As Fergie showed on so many occasions, no player is bigger than the club, and while he loved shipping talent out if they defied him, De Gea is not that type of character.
He is settled in Manchester, has good friends in the dressing room and a Spanish contingent he spends time with socially. There would be no sulking a la Carlos Tevez. De Gea would get his head down and do his very best for the club – any club, no matter who he was playing for.
The very way he has conducted himself through the whole affair tells you as much, and his relationship with the United board and manager remains in tact. It would be easy for the club to keep him should they feel Real Madrid are not offering enough money, it would be easy for the player to stay.
Why should United, the most successful club in England, be held to ransom by Spanish bandits that are trying to flex their power? De Gea is not a Madrid boy – well he is, but the other side, meaning he does not pine for the hallowed turf of the Bernabeu.
To say Real Madrid hold no power would be wrong, they would for any player in the world, but they are not his dream, the be all and end all, the ultimate goal he has in his career. That works in United’s favour, and in the uncertain world of football, where things change day on day, even De Gea signing a new deal with United so that at the very least, they did not risk losing him on a free, is not out of the question.
Much like Real Madrid are not the only club in the world, De Gea is not the only goalkeeper in the world, and United will survive if he does leave. If cash and Sergio Ramos are on offer, United would be fools not to take it when the likes of Hugo Lloris, Jasper Cillessen and Sergio Romero would jump at the chance to join the club.
Should De Gea stay and leave next summer, refusing all offers of a contract extension, United would obviously miss out on a transfer fee of £25 million, but the fact that they outright refused to sell a player to a rival side when they deemed the offer not good enough would speak volumes about the club. They are not a small club, they are not a selling club, they do not have to pack their player’s bags and wave them off when Real Madrid come calling. In short, they are not Spurs.
Imagine De Gea stays for another season, is as good as he was last term, but in a stronger and much more capable side. Writing off £25 million could well be worth it should United progress to the latter stages of the Champions League, win a domestic cup or even the Premier League.