Manchester United fans can bury their heads in the sand if they wish, but deep down they must believe David de Gea will inevitably join Real Madrid in the near future - regardless of whether or not he signs a new contract with the Red Devils over the coming weeks.
That the Spain international hasn’t already signed a contract extension with United indicates he wants out - negotiations have been going on for months now - while fresh reports from Spain suggest there is a very good reason why Louis van Gaal signed former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes last month.
AS claim Van Gaal’s relationship with De Gea has hit rock bottom. The pair haven’t spoken “for months” and the chances of United’s first-choice ‘keeper putting pen-to-paper on a new deal appear more remote with each passing day.
Van Gaal's relationship with De Gea
If true, it might not only explain why Van Gaal signed Valdes but also why he has been so reluctant to praise De Gea - Manchester United’s Player of the Season so far - during interviews over recent weeks.
While United fans have chanted his name loudly during matches and praised his displays on social media, Van Gaal has been bizarrely stand-offish towards the player who has saved him on multiple occasions this season.
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Nine days ago the veteran Dutch coach publicly refused to praise De Gea, stating the 24-year-old was merely doing his job rather than performing heroics.
"I think he doesn't save many points because he's my goalkeeper - his obligation is to hold balls," Van Gaal told the Manchester Evening News. "You are thinking that is an exception.
"For other goalkeepers it's not like that."
But to class De Gea as your run-of-the-mill goalkeeper is doing a huge disservice to his ultra consistent performances this season. No Premier League goalkeeper has been more valuable to his team.
Best in the world?
Now widely regarded as one of the world’s best three keepers alongside Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, De Gea has made significantly more saves than both.
Neuer has made 44 saves in the Bundesliga this season, Courtois has more one more in the Premier League, while De Gea comes out on top with 72.
Both Neuer and Courtois have better defences ahead of them but it’s worth nothing that, without De Gea, Manchester United would not currently occupy fourth place in the Premier League table.
Doubts over Valdes
By signing Valdes, who Van Gaal admitted would not be content to play the role of No. 2 at Old Trafford, Manchester United at least have a quality goalkeeper with a vast amount of experience to replace De Gea - but will he be the same player after last season’s serious knee injury?
Furthermore, Valdes turned 33 last month - and while it’s often true that goalkeepers peak later in their careers, big question marks hover over the ex-Barca star, who was only handed an 18-month deal by the Red Devils, indicating they have their own doubts.
Top players struggle to turn down Real Madrid
David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and a host of other top clubs at big clubs over the years have proven that when Real Madrid come knocking there only ever tends to be one outcome.
De Gea is the ideal long-term replacement for Iker Casillas. The goalkeeper’s girlfriend lives in the Spanish capital. He’s apparently fed up with Van Gaal. United are at serious risk of missing out on the Champions League for the second successive season (just look at their fixtures in March and April). He can guarantee himself a place in Spain’s starting line-up for the 2016 European Championships by joining Real Madrid, the world’s biggest football club. His agent is Jorge Mendes.
These are just some of the reasons why it’s surely only a matter of time before De Gea becomes a Real Madrid player.
Time for United fans to accept the inevitable
Rather than put themselves through more torment, United fans - just as they did with Ronaldo in 2009 - must accept the inevitable.
It was good while it lasted.
Manchester United fans: do you honestly believe David de Gea will stay at Old Trafford beyond 2016? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!