Real Madrid have been quiet in the transfer market since Rafa Benitez’s arrival this summer, but as the new season approaches a deal for their primary target may have taken a step closer. David de Gea, the goalkeeper pursued by Real Madrid for several months, has been left out of Manchester United’s opening lineup of the Premier League campaign as the uncertainty over his future continues.

With just a year remaining on his contract at Manchester United and an apparent strong desire to return to the Spanish capital, where he came up through the ranks at Atlético , a deal has long looked inevitable. However, United have dug their heels in, seemingly determined to either secure Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos in return or a massive fee of €45 million, which would make him the most expensive goalkeeper in history.

But the resolve of the English giants may now be weakening. After De Gea was at fault for a goal in United’s final preseason friendly against Paris Saint-Germain last week, manager Louis van Gaal suggested that the continued specter of a possible move to the Bernabeu had been to blame. And the Dutch coach has now revealed he believes that the situation has been such a distraction that the 24-year-old is not in the right mind to take the field against Tottenham on Saturday.

“He shall not play,” he said at a press conference on Friday. “A human being is more than just a player and he cannot manage.”

Van Gaal went onto state that he is not in control of De Gea’s future. “I cannot lead this process, I can only watch and observe and that is what I’m doing. I’m not participating in that process.”

At the same time as the developments over De Gea’ situation, there has been fresh speculation about Ramos. Despite telling Real Madrid he wants to move, in recent days it has appeared increasingly likely that, having been made captain, the situation would be resolved to keep the center-back at the Bernabeu. According to Spanish radio station Cadena SER there have been talks about a new contract, however Madrid’s offer of €7.5 million a year still falls someway short of Ramos’ demand for €10 million, and that there have been no further discussions in the past week.

There have also been fresh rumors about another key player leaving the Bernabeu, with reports of a move to Arsenal for Karim Benzema refusing to dissipate. Benitez has dismissed the possibility of the France international leaving, although there have been suggestions that the new manger intends to move Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale through the middle this season, potentially leaving Benzema on the outside looking in. Like Benitez, though, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has played down talk of Benzema’s transfer.

“I never came out on Karim Benzema,” he said on Friday. “It is just media talk. When [Alexis] Sanchez and [Danny] Welbeck come back, we feel that we have the needed striking force.”

It still appears highly unlikely that Real Madrid would allow Benzema to leave without getting in a replacement of at least equal quality. And that would appear difficult to pull off. Sergio Agüero is thought to be a target but there is little prospect of luring him away from Manchester City, while another player thought to be of interest, Fernando Llorente, is arguably not of the required quality. As Spanish sports daily AS reports, though, Madrid could yet activate a €30 million buy back clause for another Juventus forward, Spain international Alvaro Morata.