Rumours have been rife of current Manchester United and previous Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David De Gea joining Real Madrid as a replacement for Iker Casillas or a long-term prospect for the club. His situation at United has become slightly turbulent since the arrival of Victor Valdes. But at 33, Valdes is a short-term idea and not a long haul solution.
He supposedly carries a £50 million price tag which given how ridiculous the transfer market has become, is a fair fee for the player who has become one of the best goalkeepers in the world and someone who is a strong contender for a team like Madrid to invest into keeping long-term prospects into consideration.
Having said all that, there are many more aspects to keep in mind before splashing the cash as we usually do.
Casillas isn’t the best goalkeeper in the world but he’s a true leader for the team and has been better since early jitters in the season. He understands, like Raul did, that it is difficult to play with the club until you want even if you think you’re doing your best. The club demands perfection and with each passing year, the movement gets hampered making it increasingly difficult to perform well in all competitions. Casillas has spoken before of his wish to stay with the club all his life but he’s also spoken of a challenge elsewhere suggest Major League Soccer (MLS) in the US. If it has to happen, it is a possibility for end of next season (2016) at best.
In the summer, Real signed Keylor Navas after a brilliant World Cup campaign with Costa Rica in Brazil. The South American made a short trip in joining Los Blancos from Levante but has found little playing time. There were early questions of who will be top choice for Carlo Ancelotti but after benching Casillas in the league last season, the Italian has the legend taking centre stage for almost all games. Navas has only played a handful of games so far and looks destined for the bench for the rest of the season. But at 28, with five years in his contract left, he can easily play out his contract if/when Casillas leaves.
As with most transfers and big spendings, there is always that lingering question - “why not use the academy to fill that gap?” Same applies to the goalkeeping situation. Beyond Casillas and Navas, Madrid have a great talent in line for the No. 1 shirt. Fernando Pacheco, Ruben Yañez and Alfonso Herrero are all great goalkeepers but need chances to grow into the level of the top players.
Away from the usual obvious questions, there is the concern of Jorge Mendes’s influence into the club growing even more. Not so surprisingly, the Portuguese is the agent of De Gea and has a full opportunity to milk this opportunity and make it a winnable situation for him. If he plays his cards right, which he usually does, he is likely to get a nice little commission from this move - were it to happen.
Another question or rumour that has circled is to have Bale coming in as a swap deal for Gareth Bale. While there are many who have outrightly lambasted Bale’s contribution to the team since his big money signing, he is a vital part of the machinery. Even if he doesn’t get the goals or the assists, he is useful in flow of the attack. His speed and control are hard to match even though his decision-making can be a little off. Even if we keep that in consideration, spending that much money and not reaping any benefits from it (minus the T-shirt sales) will be a poor sporting decision.
For the record: De Gea’s contract ends 2016 when Real Madrid, reportedly, plans to bring him in - for free.