Manchester United are confident that they have won their battle to retain goalkeeper David de Gea's services for at least one more season, despite the lack of a contract breakthrough which has raised the threat of him moving to Real Madrid.
United manager Louis van Gaal gave no signs of optimism last week that De Gea would be persuaded to stay, after his best season for the club in which he was shortlisted for Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year.
But the prospects of him remaining at Old Trafford are understood to have improved and it is thought he is ready to stay until summer next year.
Though attempts to persuade him to resist the emotional draw of the Bernabeu may fail if Real seek his services then, an improved United contract this summer - in the region of £200,000 a week - strengthening the Red Devils' negotiating position next year is thought to be possible.
The pessimism surrounding De Gea has included the continued presence of his girlfriend in Madrid and her recent unflattering comments about Manchester.
Van Gaal's installation of Victor Valdes, whom he is acquainted with from his own time at Barcelona, is also seen as a protection against losing De Gea this summer, though there are other alternatives.
Chelsea's Petr Cech will be on the market and could be an attractive proposition at the age of 32 - relatively young for a goalkeeper.
But De Gea's form has been fundamental to United's recovery to a probable top-four berth in the Premier League this season and, with United in need of a central defender, central midfielder and striker to strengthen the squad for a renewed European campaign, Van Gaal does not want to lose the 24-year-old Spaniard.
Real manager Carlo Ancelotti, has said that if the Spanish club, who lie second in La Liga, acquired a better goalkeeper than Iker Casillas the Spain international would lose his place, though De Gea (pictured) could face a fight for regular football at the Bernabeu, while he would be guaranteed a key role in United's campaign.
Casillas is not expected to leave until summer next year.
United are not thought to welcome the idea of De Gea running down his contract and leaving on a free transfer next year - and may be ready to part ways with the 24-year-old, whom they signed from Atletico Madrid four years ago. But Van Gaal wants security and continuity, at a time when he is looking to bolster his squad in other ways.
He is interested in the PSV Eindhoven winger Memphis Depay and the Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, though United are not thought to have made a firm bid for Hummels yet. (© Independent News Service)