Newly installed Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez had a spy watch David de Gea during a training session ahead of his potential move to the Bernabeu according to reports in the Spanish press.
De Gea is out of contract next year and has so far refused to commit his future to the Red Devils despite the offer of a £200,000-per-week deal.
Real Madrid are reportedly closed to sealing a deal for the Spanish international having announced Benitez as the replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, and the former Liverpool boss is seemingly doing his homework on his would-be recruit.
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According to Spanish newspaper AS, Benitez sent goalkeeper coach Xavi Valero to watch De Gea in action during a training session with Spain ahead of their upcoming training session against Costa Rica on Wednesday before their European Championship qualifier against Belarus on Sunday.
De Gea, who has been named Manchester United's player of the year for the past two seasons, reportedly has his heart set on a return to Spain, however the Red Devils won't let him go easily. Recent reports suggest that they will hold out for a fee of at least £29 million.
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The move could trigger a whole host of transfers, with Manchester United said to be hoping to include Gareth Bale in the deal - although Real Madrid are unlikely to entertain that. Karim Benzema and Keylor Navas have also been suggested as possible alternatives who could be included.
Despite the possible permutations Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal is hopeful that he will perform a u-turn, insisting after his side's last game of the season that he 'believes' the Spaniard will stay.
That's unlikely and Instead it seems as though they are already eyeing up replacement options, with a host of top names on their hitlist and The Times say that Chelsea's Petr Cech is the ideal candidate for the role. The 32-year-old is set to leave Stamford Bridge in the summer after falling behind Thibaut Courtois in the pecking order - and he won't be blocked from joining the Red Devils.
His price tag, rumoured to be around £12 million, makes him a much more attracting option than Hugo Lloris of Tottenham. The French ace only signed a five-year contract at Spurs last year and yesterday he confirmed that deal doesn't contain a release clause, which means Manchester United would have to deal with the notoriously difficult Daniel Levy once more.
De Gea will be a huge loss to Manchester United when he inevitably leaves, although they already have a top quality replacement on board in Victor Valdes.
It does feel as though all this talk of bringing in a replacement for De Gea is something of a red herring; Van Gaal surely knew of De Gea's intention and that's why he bought in Valdes. It's easy for him to talk about goalkeeper replacements in order to deflect attention from more pressing questions such as who he could sign in attack or midfield.