The Spanish goalkeeper has been key to Manchester United's revival this season, regularly keeping them in games with a number of world-class saves.
With just 12 months left on his current contract, there is a growing belief within the Old Trafford dressing room that De Gea will look to leave this summer with Real Madrid the destination of choice.
De Gea has so far resisted attempts by Louis van Gaal to extend his contract. Reports have suggested that Manchester United officials were ready to make De Gea the highest paid goalkeeper in the world.
An offer of £140,000-a-week was thought to be on the table, but it appears even that has not been enough to convince the 24-year-old to commit his future to Manchester United.
But it appears that it is not just footballing matters that are calling him back to the Spanish capital, where he grew up as an Atletico Madrid youth product, but also his girlfriend. TV presenter Edurne is still based in Madrid and has previously been quoted as saying she does not enjoy Manchester.
It now appears that many of Manchester United's current first-team are convinced De Gea has his heart set on a move to the Bernabeu. The chance to succeed Iker Casillas appears to be too tempting of a proposition to turn down.
Manchester United value De Gea at £50million but they will struggle to get that amount from anyone considering he could leave the club for nothing next summer.
There have also been suggestions that Manchester United could offer him in a player-plus-cash swap deal for Gareth Bale. The Welshman has been a long-term target for the Red Devils, but a straight cash deal would probably cost them upwards of £80m.
It was hoped that Manchester United's return to the Champions League would convince De Gea to stay. Now in third, United are favourites to qualify after a one-season absence, but even an upturn in form has not convinced De Gea otherwise.
United officials now appear resigned to losing the Premier League's most expensive goalkeeper and are hoping their punt of Victor Valdes pays off.
The 33-year-old joined on a free contract in January as back-up to De Gea, but is now faced with the prospect of replacing him.
Is Victor Valdes up for the challenge or do Manchester United need to buy a world-class goalkeeper if De Gea leave?
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