In an article originally published in on May 18th, Mark Jones explains why David De Gea was always going to go to Real Madrid in the end.
For everyone’s sake, we can only hope for a quick and painless ending.
With no summer tournament to sustain us when club football comes to a close in the coming days and weeks, the clink-clank of the rumour mill grinding to life will only continue to get louder and louder until it deafens us all.
Which striker will Liverpool sign? Are Arsenal in for a defensive midfielder? Where will Chelsea and Manchester City’s millions be sent next? You’ll be hearing it all soon enough.
There’s always one saga which shouts louder than the others, though, and this time around it centres on David De Gea, Real Madrid, Manchester United and an awful lot of words.
5 Things we learned from Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
Words about how he much he loves it at Old Trafford, words about how much he values the support the United fans have given him, and words about how much he owes his teammates an awful lot during a United career which began inauspiciously but now sees him rightly regarded as one of the best goalkeepers around who are on the right side of their 20s.
And all of that is true, of course. De Gea surely does love life as a Manchester United player (at least now David Moyes has gone), but if you think that’ll stop him from trying to push through a move to Real Madrid then your head is even closer to the clouds than the 6ft 4ins stopper’s.
Louis van Gaal’s hardly positive words on United’s chances of keeping their player of the season after the draw with Arsenal have seen this saga edge a little further down the line, but we are still probably only about halfway through it.
Next will come Real’s public declaration of interest in the player, then a string of quotes from some of their star men about his many qualities, then the crucial admittance from the man himself that he wants to go (to pursue new challenges, all without offending his current employers of course), then the ‘well what else can we do?’ line from United, and finally, mercifully, the conclusion of the transfer.
Based on previous examples we can probably expect that to come round about mid-August, but we can only hope that it happens sooner for the sake of our sanity. United will surely already have replacements lined up, in any case, as was suggested in reports over the weekend.
Why the certainty over his transfer? Because we’ve seen it from Spain’s big two so many times before. Add in the fact that De Gea would be returning home to Madrid and you’ve got an element to it that United didn’t experience when they lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Real in 2009.
Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Luis Suarez, Cesc Fabregas, Javier Mascherano, Michael Owen, David Beckham and others have also boarded the talent draining train from the Premier League to Real Madrid or Barcelona. Once one of those two sets their sights on a player they pretty much always get their man.
There will be an opportunity for United to ward them off for a bit, and reaching next season’s Champions League certainly helps with that, but sooner or later their fans are going to have to accept that their No. 1 is going home.
Perhaps things could have been different had Real won La Liga or defended the Champions League, but given that they’ve done neither the desire for change at that most demanding of clubs will mean that action has to be taken. Carlo Ancelotti is probably – incredibly – going to lose his job, whilst players like Bale will see their futures come under threat.
United could profit from that with a move for the Welshman, of course, but given that his extraordinary skillset doesn’t include being as good a goalkeeper as De Gea, the sense of loss that Van Gaal’s side will experience could prove damning to next season’s title chances. How many points has the Spaniard won them on his own this time around, after all?
It is those performances which have placed De Gea ‘in play’ when Real’s transfer targets are evaluated, and with Iker Casillas getting a little long in the tooth and a big signing demanded, everything is coming together and leading to one obvious outcome.
We know the who, what and where, it’s now just a matter of when.
Read more from Mark Jones