Real Madrid's ongoing pursuit of David de Gea has taken a fresh twist after it emerged that Manchester United are refusing to sell the 24-year-old stopper unless the Spanish club make an offer in excess of the world-record fee currently paid for a goalkeeper.
That's according to the Manchester Evening News, who suggest that the Red Devils are ready and willing to make their No.1 custodian see out the remaining 12 months of his contract at Old Trafford if Los Blancos do not meet their asking price.
Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon's £32.6 million move from Parma to Juventus back in 2001 remains the highest ever transfer fee paid by any club for a custodian, but senior chiefs at the Theatre of Dreams believe De Gea is worth more than that, despite the fact he is about to enter the final year of his existing deal.
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Louis van Gaal is stil hoping to convince De Gea to put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with Manchester United, although recent reports have intimated the former Atletico Madrid man is keen on a return to his homeland.
However, the Premier League giants would rather retain the Spain international for the 2015/16 campaign and risk losing him on a Bosman free transfer next summer than sell him for what they believe to be a knock-down price in the forthcoming transfer window.
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Several stories in the English press yesterday covered the fact that the Cheshire house De Gea has been renting is now back on the market after an advert emerged on property website RightMove while Spanish newspaper AS focused on the player's desire to finalise his move to the Santiago Bernabeu in time for the start of pre-season training on July 6.
Either way, it looks like one of the most drawn out transfer sagas of the summer still has a few more barriers to overcome before Manchester United's 2015 Player of the Year can be formally presented as a Real Madrid star.
However, despite De Gea's current employers' stubborn stance, it's still very much a case of 'not if, but when' the agreement will finally be reached, allowing the goalkeeper to up sticks and return to La Liga.
While all this has been happening the long-term future of Los Blancos captain Iker Casillas remains shrouded in doubt as new manager Rafa Benitez prepares to make a big decision regarding who will be his first-choice heading into the new campaign.
The veteran has managed to protect his place in Vicente del Bosque's national team, so far keeping De Gea's challenge for the starting spot at bay. But, given his rapid decline over the past 18 months, how much longer will it be before the Manchester United man replaces him for club and for country?
Manchester United fans: Do you think David de Gea is worth £33m? Is it realistic to demand so much money for a player with just one year left on his contract? Have your say below...
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