United prepared to allow €30m David de Gea to follow his heart to Real Madrid
Louis van Gaal's admission that Manchester United are already planning for David De Gea's departure was not a tactic to try and force the Spanish goalkeeper to sign a new deal.
United are genuinely concerned there is little more they can do to try and persuade De Gea to stay.
Talks between the club and player, and his agent Jorge Mendes, have been amicable. But the positions are, for now, clear. United will pay whatever it takes for De Gea to extend his contract beyond the end of next season; finance is not an issue.
But the club also accept that the 24-year-old is a "Madrid boy", as one club source put it, and the pull to return to Spain might just prove irresistible for the goalkeeper who was signed from Atlético Madrid for £18.3million in June 2011.
Saturday's front page of Marca, the Spanish sports daily newspaper, declared that De Gea was the "chosen one" and even claimed that personal terms had been agreed with the player to become Real Madrid's first-choice goalkeeper next season replacing Iker Casillas.
Marca did concede that "the most difficult and tortuous part is yet to come - negotiations with Manchester United" - but it is unlikely that United will stand in De Gea's way and hold him to the final year of his deal, not only because they would lose a lot of money but also because they are genuinely sympathetic.
De Gea's girlfriend, the Spanish pop star Edurne Garcia Almagro, is based in Madrid.
"David loves the club [United] but he has personal ties there [Madrid]," the source said. United have certainly not given up hope of keeping De Gea but his future is most definitely in the balance should Real make a big offer. Marca claim Real will offer €30m. But they will probably have to go higher.