Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea is heading to Real Madrid, the only question is when and for how much -- and, to a certain extent, who the money goes to.
The Daily Mirror on Monday reported a new twist in the summer’s longest-running transfer saga, claiming that Real is now prepared to offer United’s goalkeeper a signing bonus of 12 million pounds, or $18.7 million, if he waits to sign for Madrid until next summer, after his current contract at Old Trafford expires.
If that happens, United would miss out on receiving any compensation for one of the world’s very best goalkeepers. Obviously, no one at United wants that to happen, which means the club absolutely must sell the player before the transfer window closes on Sept 1.
According to the Mirror report, the two sides are pretty far away from each other, with United asking 35 million-pounds ($54.6 million) for De Gea and Real only willing to pay 25 million-pounds ($39 million).
However, Real’s incredible offer to De Gea is the clearest indication yet that of the three interested parties in this transfer -- United, the player and Real -- the Spanish giant has almost all the leverage. In fact, the only big question mark for the Royal Whites is whether the club can survive a whole season with either Kiko Casilla or Keylor Navas in goal.
Meanwhile, over in Manchester, De Gea and United find themselves in something of a quagmire.
At the urging of coach Louis van Gaal, United spent much of the transfer window trying to engineer a move that would see De Gea head to Real and Real defender Sergio Ramos head the other way. Well, on Monday, Ramos signed a new five-year contract at the Bernabeu, leaving van Gaal fuming, because the Dutchman desperately wanted to a player-plus cash deal involving the Real defender.
For his part, De Gea’s position on wanting to join Real has been known for some time now -- his pop star girlfriend, who never liked Manchester, was even quoted about the impending move last week -- but things between the Manchester United No. 1 and his coach have visibly deteriorated the longer this transfer saga has dragged on. At the start of the Premier League season, van Gaal benched De Gea for the opening game against Tottenham, saying that the Spaniard’s head wasn’t right to play. Later, the Dutchman said that De Gea would remain out of the squad until the end of the transfer window for the same reason.
However, more recently -- in fact, right around the time that Ramos signed his new contract with Real -- van Gaal came out and said that the reason De Gea is not playing is because he doesn’t want to.
This does two things: one, it alienates De Gea further from Manchester United’s fans, who must have been expecting his departure anyway, and two, it basically renders his situation with the club untenable. In other words, United now absolutely has to sell De Gea before the end of the transfer window, because it probably couldn’t get away with playing him again if the club fails to find a buyer.
So, with De Gea clearly wanting out, United clearly wanting to get something instead of nothing and needing to before the transfer window closes, Real is comfortably in the driving seat on this one, which is why Los Blancos on Monday offered to give the player close to $20 million as a signing bonus if he agrees to see out the final year of his contract.
Now that van Gaal has alienated De Gea further from United fans, the Spaniard has a choice: ride out an uncomfortable last year with United and wait for a massive payday (which would anger fans even further), or ask his new employer to force a move before the window closes.
Either way, United is the party making concessions, which means that Real will likely get its man for closer to its 25 million-pound ($39 million) valuation, or, better, for $18.7 million, which will go directly to the player instead of his former club.
In the meantime, you can chock this up to another poor transfer window performance for LVG and United EVP Ed Woodward.