As a younger man, David de Gea wouldn't have had the same burning ambition that Cristiano Ronaldo always held.
Namely, to line up in the blinding white of Real Madrid. He may have thought that his talent could develop to a point where the switch might become a possibility.
Transcending a rivalry
Deep down inside though, he would have known that making the small geographical leap from Atletico's ground to plying his trade at Real's would have been at best, frowned upon.
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Think of Wayne Rooney's flirtations with Manchester City, or further back, the pig's head thrown at Luis Figo after his switch from Barcelona to Real.
Sure, De Gea's star had not, and has not ascended to the same point as those two much revered forwards. The rivalry between the two Madrid clubs though, is no less fierce.
A move to Los Blancos
De Gea needed a bridge to the Santiago Bernabeu and, like David Beckham, Ronaldo, Gabriel Heinze and Ruud van Nistelrooy before him, Old Trafford could be it.
The Spanish 'keeper couldn't have joined Real at the point when he joined United. They simply do not develop players. The baying crowd, the board, the whole culture demands ready-mades. Real let other people do the work. Other clubs make stars out of mortals, Madrid pay over the odds for them and call them Galacticos.
A tough decision
The quandary that De Gea finds himself in is this; Madrid is his home, but can that include the Bernabeu? Too often the Madrid crowd are guilty of short-sightedness, of taking their team for granted.
A crowd that can be hostile towards Ronaldo, who recently surpassed Alfredo Di Stefano as their all time leading scorer, will pull no punches with De Gea. Especially if he fluffs his own.
He will look to Ronaldo, who despite a nagging instinct to take away from the fans the thing that they both chastise and value the most (himself), stays for his own personal glory. He will look to Iker Casillas and realise that this is his greatest chance to emulate he who Madrid's own website referred to as 'The greatest goalkeeper in the history of Spanish football.'
Career defining move
It may well be a case of better the devil you know. And for De Gea, last line of defence for devils of the red variety, he may well be closer to home than he realises. For isn't home where the heart is? Perhaps that proverb hasn't travelled to the Bernabeu, where ruthlessness reigns supreme.
Despite what Ronaldo may believe, there is only one king at Real Madrid; the fans. There is also only one at United; romance.
De Gea must decide which he wants to play for.
United fans, do you think De Gea would be wise to leave for Real? Let us know in the comments box below.