The future of two Manchester United players is in the spotlight heading toward the end of the season, with both cases centering around Spanish giants Real Madrid. Most seriously from a United point of view, there are reports that they are continuing their attempts to fight off interest from Madrid in goalkeeper David de Gea.
The former Atlético Madrid stopper has been linked with a move to Real throughout the season, with the 24-year-old’s girlfriend thought to be keen on a return to the Spanish capital. The fact that De Gea has yet to agree to extend his contract at Old Trafford beyond the summer of 2016 means United’s hand could be forced into selling him before he is able to leave on a free transfer. The Independent has reported that United have not yet given up hope, however, and have offered the Spain international a massive new deal worth £200,000 a week. The story also suggests that United’s chances could be boosted by Madrid’s current No. 1 Iker Casillas potentially staying at the Bernabeu until the end of next season.
It appears that Manchester United have already made contingency plans for De Gea’s potential departure by signing former Barcelona stopper Victor Valdes on a free transfer in January. And ESPN writes that its sources have revealed that United have also lined up Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris in the event of De Gea’s departure. The France international has been one of the Premier League’s best keepers since arriving at White Hart Lane in 2012 and his excellence sweeping up behind the defense with his feet is sure to appeal to United boss Louis van Gaal.
It is well known that Lloris is eager to test himself in the Champions League, but prizing the 28-year-old from Tottenham promises to be no easy task. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has made it extremely difficult for clubs, especially United, to sign their players in the past and nearly drove Sir Alex Ferguson to breaking point over the transfer of Dimitar Berbatov in 2008.
Manchester United also failed in their attempts to sign Gareth Bale from Spurs in 2013, when the Welsh forward instead moved to Real Madrid for a world record fee. But rumors have long swirled that he could finally make his way to Old Trafford this summer after a difficult season at the Bernabeu in which he has been the recipient of abuse from both fans and media.
Recent weeks, though, have seen speculation increase that United will sign young Dutch winger Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven, seemingly signaling the end of the pursuit of Bale. Yet the Manchester Evening News states that interest in Bale is ongoing, with the club keeping their options open.
It remains difficult to think that Madrid will dispense with Bale just two years after such a huge investment. But with their interest in De Gea there could be some intense negotiations between the clubs in the coming months. Those complex discussions could also involve the other United player linked with an exit in recent days, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández.
The Mexico striker is on a season-long loan at the Bernabeu and until the past week there appeared little prospect that the deal would be made permanent. However, Hernández has made the most of a rare chance in the starting lineup, grabbing the winner in the Champions League quarterfinals against Atlético Madrid and then scoring twice against Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Suddenly there is speculation that Real Madrid won’t be sending Hernandez back after all. The loan deal has a clause giving Madrid first option to sign the 26-year-old for 20 million euros, which expires on Thursday. But Madrid are believed to be unwilling to match that figure and manager Carlo Ancelotti has stated that any decision on Hernández’s future will wait until the summer.
“It's something we'll take a look at at the end of the season,” he said, reports Spanish publication Marca. “I have liked his professionalism all year. When he has had his chances, he has taken full advantage of them. For a manager, to have that kind of player is very good.”
Regardless of his future at Real Madrid, it doesn’t appear that Hernandez will be turning out for Manchester United again. Van Gaal was quick to decide his services weren’t required upon taking over at Old Trafford, and his mind has seemingly not been altered.
“I’ve already sent him away once,” he said last week. “When you score a goal, as he has just done for Real Madrid, are you suddenly different? I don’t think so.
“I told him the same as I told Danny Welbeck, that he was again a substitute and I didn’t feel that was any good to him.”