Sunday 23 October 2016

De Gea to stay: Manchester United win battle for in-demand keeper with offer of £200k-per-week

Manchester United's David De Gea
Manchester United's David De Gea

Manchester United appear increasingly confident that they have won their battle to retain goalkeeper David De Gea’s services for at least one more season, despite the lack of a contract breakthrough which has raised the threat of him moving to Real Madrid.

United manager Louis van Gaal gave no signs of optimism last week of De Gea being persuaded to stay, after his best season for the club which saw him shortlisted for Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year. But the prospects of De Gea remaining are understood to have improved and it is thought that he is ready to stay until next summer.

Though attempts to persuade him to resist the emotional draw of the Bernabeu may prove too much if Real seek his services then, an improved United contract this summer, strengthening the Old Trafford club’s negotiating position next summer, is thought to be possible.

The pessimism surrounding De Gea has included the continued presence of his girlfriend in Madrid and her own  recent unflattering comments about Manchester. Van Gaal’s installation of Victor Valdes, whom he is acquainted with from his own time at Barcelona, is also seen as a protection against losing De Gea this summer, though there are other possible alternatives. Chelsea’s Petr Cech will be on the market and could be an attractive proposition at the age of only 32 –relatively young for a goalkeeper.

But De Gea’s role has been fundamental to United’s recovery to a probable top four berth this season and with United’s in need of a central defender, central midfielder and striker to strengthen the squad for a renewed European campaign, Van Gaal does not want to lose the Spaniard. It is thought the 24-year-old may have been offered around £200,000 a week to stay at United.

Real manager Carlo Ancelotti has said that if the Spanish club acquired a better goalkeeper than Iker Casillas then the Spain international would lose his place, though De Gea could face a fight for regular football at the Bernabeu, while he would be guaranteed a key role in United’s campaign. Casillas is not expected to leave until next summer.

United are not thought to welcome the idea of De Gea running down his contract and leaving on a free transfer next summer – and may be ready to part ways with the 24-year-old, who they signed from Atletico Madrid four years ago.

But Van Gaal wants security and continuity, at a time when he is looking to bolster his squad in other ways. He is interested in the PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay and the Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, though United are not thought to have made a firm bid for Hummels yet. Dortmund’s Ilkay Gündogan is also thought to be on the radar, as is Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski.

With Van Gaal accepting that Robin van Persie’s most potent goalscoring years are behind him, a goalscorer like Lewandowski is required for the rigours of a dual Premier League/Champions League campaign. Radamel Falcao is likely to have left the club before that campaign gets underway.

Van Gaal said last week that managers were now at the mercy of players like De Gea. “It takes a long time now,” Van Gaal said, on the subject of the club’s attempts to tie him to a new contract.

“It can always happen, but I am not the boss. The player is the boss and he can say yes or no.I want him to stay, but you will have to ask David De Gea, not me. He has to sign, but we have offered

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