Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is stalling on a new contract under instruction from agent Jorge Mendes, who is hedging his bets in the hope that Real Madrid or another Champions League giant are on the lookout for a top stopper next summer.
De Gea's deal with United doesn't expire until 2016, but the Spanish international's fantastic form over the last six months means Mendes is acutely aware of his client's value and has delayed attempts from Red Devils chiefs to schedule talks over fresh terms.
Mendes pulls the strings once again
United are being forced to play a waiting game over De Gea's future by one of the world's powerful agents in the game, a man who brought Radamel Falcao to Old Trafford and made sure Cristiano Ronaldo's buyout clause in his current Madrid contract stands at a staggering £1billion.
Mendes has a strong working relationship with Madrid and clearly believes Los Blancos are thinking about replacing club legend Iker Casillas, who has suffered an alarming downturn in form in 2014 and is now struggling to justify a starting spot for either club or country.
De Gea is primed to take both if Mendes gets his way, with Barcelona-based Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reporting that United's interest in opening contract talks has been given short shrift.
Kroos example spells trouble for United
The inspiration for a tough stance on De Gea's future has come from Madrid's cut-price £25m deal for Toni Kroos, with Madrid able to get the world-class playmaker for a smaller sum because he allowed his contract at Bayern Munich to run into its final year.
Mendes would be more than happy for De Gea to do the same, despite the 23-year-old being very happy at United and fast developing into one of the world's best young goalkeepers.
United's plans for the future definitely include a terrific talent in De Gea, but unless they can offer to increase his current £52,000-a-week salary significantly then the lingering threat of interest from Madrid may become too strong to resist in 2015.