Real Madrid appear to have given up all hope of signing Manchester United's David de Gea. At least for this summer.
The will-he-won't-he transfer scenario has been played out for a number of weeks now, but with the signing by Los Blancos of Kiko Casilla, Florentino Perez has, for all intents and purposes, walked away from any proposed deal for De Gea.
United's transfer business during this summer window has been inspired. Ed Woodward has led the way and seemingly delivered any target that manager Louis Van Gaal has requested, with the possible exception of Sergio Ramos.
From the outside looking in, it appears that the signing of Ramos is interlinked with Real's capture of De Gea.
Clearly Rafa Benitez isn't going to let one of his most talismanic players leave so soon after another, Casillas, has left the organisation, so in turn the Red Devils can afford to play hard ball over their number one.
After all, who would they replace him with? The Dutchman has already come out and confirmed with Victor Valdes is on his way out of the club because of a failure to train with United's reserves.
Allowing De Gea to leave would represent professional suicide in those current circumstances. But Perez and Benitez will be kicking themselves.
Soon to be Spanish number one, De Gea has improved immeasurably over the last few months and would represent a decent upgrade on both Casilla and Keylor Navas. With Madrid keen to reel in Barcelona after the latter's stunning treble winning campaign, starting with a solid base from the back is a must.
Casilla and Navas don't really fill the locals with confidence. For example, if Navas was actually any good on a regular basis and not just judged on an admittedly fine World Cup showing, then he would've usurped Iker Casillas long before now. The fact he has been kept in the background until this point tells us much as to how highly he is rated by the Madrid hierarchy.
Good, not great
Casilla is a good 'keeper but not a great one, and if Real harbour genuine ambitions to be at the summit European football again this time next year, then signing De Gea had to be a deal that was closed out.
His shot shopping is second to none and better than both Casilla and Navas. As are his percentages when coming to claim the high ball into the box.
He makes more saves generally than both of his contemporaries and his passing accuracy to colleagues from boot or hand is better than both and Casillas. Whilst there are no direct quotes from De Gea himself, we can infer that his silence means that he would be happier in Madrid than Manchester.
Which begs the question as to why Perez hasn't gone all out to get his man. If it were for a forward or attacking midfielder, then the president has no problem whatsoever in spending upwards of €50 million. De Gea is available at roughly half that price.
Free next season
Is Perez really in a position to quibble over a few million pounds? A few million pounds that potentially wins them the titles to put them back on an even keel with the Catalans? The party line is that because De Gea is available for free this time next year, that Madrid will save themselves money which can be used elsewhere in the business
Where exactly? Madrid are well stocked in virtually every other position in the team. Could Real cope without the loss of Ramos if it came to it? Yes. Pepe and Raphael Varane have proved on more than one occasion that they are up to the task.
Think back to when Ramos was injured during last season. No discernible drop in output from the defence was there? Casillas' departure was inevitable but the simple fact is that he has to be replaced by De Gea if Real want to challenge next season.
Get the deal done Florentino.