Real Madrid are ready to abandon their attempts to sign David de Gea this summer in favour of signing him for free next year, according to Guillem Balague.
Writing for Spanish newspaper AS, the Sky Sports football expert claims there is a growing acceptance that Manchester United will not lower their €45million asking price.
The La Liga club cannot afford to pay that much and would have to sell a first-team star in order to balance to books.
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Rafa Benitez has told Florentino Perez that he is happy to work with Keylor Navas and Kiki Casilla for the duration of this season and that now appears to be the most likely option.
Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has been determined to prove his strength in negotiations over De Gea.
The Old Trafford outfit are so cash rich that they can afford to forgo a transfer fee of €25m even if it means losing De Gea for free next summer. The services of a world-class goalkeeper are deemed worthy, especially if it helps them challenge for the Premier League title.
However, as proved the case against Paris Saint-Germain last month, De Gea's game could be affected by his wish to leave Manchester.
The 24-year-old had set his sights on a return to his hometown and did not think he would play for the Red Devils again.
Whether he has the motivation to play under Van Gaal for another season is a question that plenty believe they have the answer to. A loss of focus could see him become a shell of the figure who kept Manchester United in the fight for a top four place last season.