It will be decided in a matter of hours, minutes or seconds. But one thing is for sure in David De Gea's seemingly never-ending summer soap opera. Today, it will reach its conclusion and there will be a winner and a loser in one of the most absurd situations we have seen in Spain's recent football history.
David De Gea wants to leave Manchester United. He has been offered an amazing contract at Old Trafford but he wants to return home for several reasons. He was born in Madrid, his girlfriend is a well-known singer who is focusing her career on Spanish television and Real Madrid (or Barcelona) is the most ambitious objective for a Spanish player. De Gea's contract with Red Devils expires at the end of this season, and Madrid can sign the player for free from next January.
Florentino Pérez, Real's president, made a bid of £20 million bid for the goalkeeper this summer, according to Marca, that Louis Van Gaal rejected. He does not even want to pick up the phone. "We do not negotiate". We can argue about this decision and analyse whether it is wise to keep De Gea for an additional season at the expense of £20 million or not. But the story becomes tougher to understand after the Premier League's opening fixtures, as the Dutch manager has punished De Gea, who is watching United's games from the stands, not even from the bench.
Some might say that Louis Van Gaal is a smart negotiator who is putting pressure on the player and Real Madrid, while at the same time sending a message across European football and even to his own players. "Manchester United do not negotiate. If you want to leave this wonderful club, face the consequences". But the former Barcelona manager does not have the best poker hand. And he knows it - or at least, he should know it.
Real Madrid's goal is defended by Keylor Navas, whose performances so far have been simply astonishing. During the club's last La Liga game against Betis, a 5-0 victory, he was cheered by thousands of supporters on a remarkable night in which he even stopped a penalty. Cadena Ser conducted a survey on Twitter yesterday and results were overwhelming. More than 90% of them believe Real Madrid should not pay a single pound for De Gea as he will be a free agent next summer. Van Gaal faces a difficult situation because not even the richest club in Premier League wants to throw £20 million in the bin.
With less than eight hours of this soap opera remaining, the ball is in Real Madrid's court. Even if they have given their word to De Gea, paying £20 million pounds on this hypothetical signing when he will be available for nothing next year turns this into the most absurd decision in the club's recent years. Do not get me wrong. I subscribe to Santiago Cañizares' views speaking to IBTimes UK some weeks ago where he said "De Gea is the perfect goalkeeper for Real Madrid". He is even better than Keylor Navas. But is that leap in quality leap worth a £20 million expenditure for just one season?
The Costa Rican has the support of the fans, he is good enough to succeed at the Bernabéu and De Gea is eager to play for Real Madrid, tomorrow, in January or next season. He might feel disappointed with Florentino Pérez if he is forced to continue at Old Trafford for an extra season but an economical compensation to mitigate a letdown this summer would likely be a foolproof medicine.
Not even the most reliable publications in Spain dared to predict what will happen today over the weekend. Rumours have been the order of the day since it was published that Real Madrid's main goal this summer was Manchester United's goalkeeper, and even in the last hours the situation remains the same. Mega Television announced yesterday that Real Madrid will offer €20 million plus Keylor Navas while some newspapers like Diario Marca remarked that the Costa Rican's last performance against Betis complicates the arrival of De Gea before the transfer window deadline. The final decision will be taken today.
Manchester United should have sold De Gea early this summer, after realizing it was impossible to extend his contract. They should have made the most of that sum of money in order to improve their attack or in goal and the Spaniard should have started the season at Real Madrid. From there on, the situation is clear. If Real Madrid buy David De Gea today, it will be an unjustifiable expenditure and Louis Van Gaal will be the winner in this strange poker game. If they rule out the signing, that would be a massive defeat for the Dutchman. But we will know the outcome in a matter of hours, minutes... or seconds.