Memphis Depay passed his medical on Monday to complete the last serious formalities ahead of the Dutch winger becoming Manchester United’s first signing when the summer transfer window opens in June. Yet rather than the PSV Eindhoven starlet’s move, the main talk surrounding Old Trafford continues to be the future of United goalkeeper David de Gea.
When De Gea made his way down the Old Trafford tunnel on Sunday following an injury suffered against Arsenal there was very much a sense from the crowd that it was a goodbye to the Spaniard. And that suspicion appeared to be confirmed later in the evening when United manager Louis van Gaal confirmed it would be “difficult” to keep hold of a goalkeeper voted as the Premier League’s best this season. De Gea has been the subject of increasing interest from Real Madrid, and, with just a year left on his contract, United could be compelled to sell the 24-year-old this summer rather than risk losing him for free in a year’s time.
Since the weekend, speculation has been rife both in Spain and England that a transfer for De Gea to the Spanish giants is now a matter of when rather than if. Some reports have even suggested that the former Atletico Madrid stopper has already agreed his side of the deal to move to the Bernabeu. While that may be premature, there is much focus on the financial package it will take to prize the player away.
In that regard there could still be some lengthy negotiations ahead. Given how De Gea has developed into one of the world’s very best goalkeepers since they paid £18 million for him in 2012, United will be after a sizable increase in that fee. But United’s bargaining power reduced by his soon-to-expire contract, Real Madrid are unprepared to pay more than 30 million euros (£21.6 million), according to Spanish sports daily AS.
Further complexities could arise from Madrid players potentially going the other way as part of the deal. Yet it appears Manchester United will have to forget about any plans to try and secure the signing of Gareth Bale. The Welsh winger has been linked with a transfer to Old Trafford all season and United even tried to sign the former Tottenham star before Madrid made him the world’s most expensive player two years ago. But, despite his struggles at Madrid this season, the Daily Mirror and other outlets report that he will be staying in the Spanish capital.
Instead, defender Fabio Coentrao may be included in a transfer for De Gea, reports Madrid-based publication Marca. United were close to signing the Portugal international left-back on loan two summers ago, and since then he has been unable to shake off competition from Marcelo for a regular first-team place. Yet, it seems unlikely that United would be overly enthused about sacrificing a significant chunk of a potential fee for De Gea to get Coentrao. Having spent £30 million to sign Luke Shaw last summer and also bring in the versatile Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, United are well-stocked in the left-back positions.
Whether or not De Gea goes, there is set to be plenty of movement at Old Trafford this summer. The Guardian has reported that Van Gaal will have £150 million to spend and that nearly half of that could go on re-signing Paul Pogba from Juventus. After leaving Old Trafford on a free transfer in 2012, Pogba has gone on to win three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus and reach the Champions League final this season, while developing into one of the world’s most complete midfielders.
Fueling speculation, Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has repeatedly suggested in recent months that the 22-year-old could move this summer. However, it remains to be seen whether Juventus’ run to Champions League final, where they’ll take on Barcelona next month, changes the landscape. Juventus stand to make 100 million euros (£72 million) from their run in the competition, roughly the same amount as they could recoup from selling the France international. Already at a club that has reached the pinnacle of European competition, Pogba, too, may have second thoughts about agitating for a transfer.