Comment: Transfer ban may hurry Real Madrid to finally land David De Gea
Manchester United could suffer major collateral damage as a result of Real Madrid’s ban from acquiring new players in the next two transfer windows which, accordingly, may force the La Liga giants to now step up their pursuit of David De Gea.
Although the reprimand handed down by FIFA today to Real and city neighbours Atletico precludes them from adding to their squads next summer or in January 2017 after they were found in breach of rules over the transfer of minors, the clubs are free to conduct business for the remainder of the current window.
For Real, currently bedding in callow manager Zinedine Zidane and languishing in third place of La Liga, plans for augmenting their lavishly assembled squad may now have to be expedited.
As such, they may now seek to finally secure the signature of Manchester United’s Spanish international goalkeeper.
Of course, after protracted negotiations and posturing between the clubs, the Spanish giants almost got their man during last summer’s window, only to see the deal fall through at the last minute- literally.
The 25-year-old was set to return to his homeland for a reputed £29m, in an agreement which included Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas going in the opposite direction. However, according to United, a failure by Madrid to lodge the relevant paperwork on time scuppered the move. Naturally, Real had a differing version of events.
Louis Van Gaal opted not to pick De Gea while his future was uncertain, claiming that the stopper was distracted by the furore and, in turn, put faith in Sergio Romero.
De Gea did not make his seasonal bow until September 12, for United’s 3-1 defeat of Liverpool. The previous day he seemingly made an inexplicable U-turn by signing a new four year contract at Old Trafford, which would keep at the club until at least 2019.
There was even an option to stay a further year in the deal, which is said to have quadrupled the former Atletico player’s wages, though a buyout clause for an undisclosed fee was also included.
De Gea was signed by Alex Ferguson in June 2011 for £17.8m which, at the time, was a British transfer record for a goalkeeper.
While the beginning of his career in Manchester bordered on the calamitous on occasion, De Gea quickly established himself as one of the most formidable goalkeepers in the Premier League.
Although it wasn't until the post-Ferguson era that he truly came into his own. If not for him, it’s safe to venture, United would surely have finished considerably lower than the disastrous seventh place they plummeted to under David Moyes.
While Louis Van Gaal continued to tinker with defensive systems during his first campaign in charge, De Gea remained the only consistent performer in his ever-oscillating rear guard and, indeed, the entire squad.
United lost three straight games in April and still scrapped a Champions League spot, and no player had a bigger hand in achieving this than De Gea.
Spectacular, seemingly improbable acrobatic saves have become his trademark as he’s continued to mature in to arguably the world’s best keeper.
This season has been no different and, while United’s play leaves something to be said for watching paint dry, witnessing his thwarting of all manner of attacks through mind-boggling, fast twitch reflexes has yet to bore.
The injunction FIFA have imposed on Real can only force their hand in landing a man they envision as the heir to Iker Casillas and, injuries notwithstanding, who easily has a decade at the top left in him. If not now, then the summer of 2017 is a long, long wait.
Thus, if Real president Florentino Pérez were to allocate the funds to activate De Gea’s buyout clause, it is perfectly conceivable that United could lose their most prized asset before the month is out.
In a time of such disquiet, when United seem perpetually on the verge of implosion, the departure of the young Spaniard could do untold damage to what short-term aspirations they may currently harbour.