On the day David de Gea was spotted landing in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid announced their first signing of the Rafa Benítez era. But there remains no end in sight to the long-running transfer saga involving Manchester United’s coveted goalkeeper.
Having already completed the capture of former Porto right-back Danilo, Real Madrid made their first move since Benítez replaced Carlo Ancelotti as coach last month by bringing back a familiar face. Winger Lucas Vázquez, who spent last season on loan at Espanyol before they made the move permanent, has made a speedy return to the Bernabeu for a fee, according to Spanish sports daily AS, of €1 million.
“Real Madrid C. F. has exercised their buy-back contract rights over Lucas Vázquez in the existing agreement with R. C. D. Espanyol,” read a statement on the Real Madrid website. “The player will remain linked to our club for the next five seasons.”
Vázquez, 24, made 33 appearances for Espanyol in La Liga last season, scoring three times and adding six assists. While Real Madrid have oodles of attacking talent, Vázquez would provide Benítez with something different in a natural winger down the right flank.
Real Madrid’s focus, though, remains on securing the signature of De Gea. A transfer has long looked likely, with De Gea having just a year remaining on his contract at Old Trafford and widely believed to be keen on a return to the Spanish capital. Indeed the 24-year-old landed at Madrid airport on Thursday, but stated he was there simply “to relax.” And Madrid continue to be frustrated by United’s hardline negotiating stance.
Although AS has suggested there has been some movement, with United prepared to accept an offer of €35 million, in Britain the Daily Mail reports that the Premier League club are still insistent on holding out for 35 million pounds (€49 million). De Gea’s future could yet be closely tied with that of Sergio Ramos. United have made their interest known in the unsettled Real Madrid defender and are thought to have already had a bid rejected. And on Wednesday former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon weighed into the saga, stating that the 29-year-old center-back is intent on a transfer to Old Trafford.
“I know Sergio has told the general manager to listen to offers they get from Manchester United,” he said, reports the BBC. “He only wants to go to United.”
As well as De Gea, there have been plenty of reports that Benítez is seeking to recruit a striker this summer, following the end of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández’s loan spell. Sergio Agüero and Álvaro Morata are among those to have been linked to filling the vacancy and this week a new name emerged in the form of Fernando Llorente.
The Spain striker could well be available this summer, with Juventus having already signed strikers Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic. However, the 30-year-old Llorente would be an unlikely target for Real Madrid, and, indeed, the club has refuted claims of their interest, reports AS.