David de Gea's career trajectory almost took a completely different path to the one that currently sees him as Manchester United's best performing player, valued at an astonishing £50 million.
The Spanish shot-stopper came close to joining Wigan Athletic whilst still a hot prospect at Atletico Madrid with the two clubs believed to have agreed a fee of around £9 million, according to The Express.
De Gea was a youngster at the time, struggling to get first team football as Atletico's third choice goalkeeper. He would later break into the first team and play a key role in their Europa League and European Super Cup triumphs before making the record-breaking move to Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson paid a Premier League record fee of £17.8 million in 2011. Originally, De Gea could not justify the fee, but is fast developing into one of the best goalkeepers in the world.
The Loan deal
Roberto Martinez has in the past admitted that the Latics were close to signing De Gea on a loan deal, only for Atletico to pull out at the eleventh hour. However, the news that they had agreed a permanent deal is news to everyone.
"It's true, we had David signed on a loan deal, but unfortunately on the last day of the transfer window everything fell through,' Martinez told the Wigan Evening Post in 2011.
"The problem wasn't on our side of the agreement – Atletico Madrid just felt he had to stay."
Real Madrid interest
Now De Gea is much bigger than Wigan, who are cut adrift from safety in the Championship. The Spaniard is being linked with a £50 million move to Real Madrid and has been offered a £200,000-a-week deal by Manchester United.
With his current deal up in less than 18 months, there is growing concern that De Gea will reject the huge contract on the table at Old Trafford and make the move to the Bernabeu. It would be a path trodden by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid rarely miss out on their man and it seems De Gea is the first choice target to replace an ageing Iker Casillas. The fact that De Gea is Spanish and from Madrid makes it all the more likely that he will be convinced to return home.
Manchester United may have the financial pulling power, but the chance to play for the only club bigger than the Red Devils is one De Gea is unlikely to pass up.
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