Real Madrid are again being linked with Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea, as the latest reports from the British press state the Red Devils are "bracing" for yet another approach from the La Liga giants.
According to Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror, the Mancunians are aware De Gea plans to return to the Spanish capital one day, and it will only get harder to keep hold of him.
The 27-year-old expressed his desire to move to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2015 and almost completed a transfer, only to be foiled by a broken fax machine, per Mullock. He signed a new deal at Old Trafford shortly after, but the persistent rumours have never gone away.
That new deal will enter its final year next summer, handing Los Blancos a ton of leverage. While United are not expected to sell their star netminder on the cheap, they're more likely to eventually accept a transfer, rather than lose him for free.
The Manchester Evening News expects the club to play hardball, however:
Man United News @ManUtdMEN
United 'preparing themselves for De Gea bid' #mufc https://t.co/Tw1mbT0sfG https://t.co/xCO8YHqsO82017-11-19 13:13:45
The report follows just days after El Chiringuito's Pipi Estrada (via Jack Staplehurst of the Daily Star) said Madrid are ready to move on from their obsession with the United stopper in favour of rising star Kepa Arrizabalaga, who is seemingly wanted by half of Europe's top teams after a great spell at Athletic Bilbao.
Those Kepa rumours have dominated the Spanish press for several weeks now, and the main newspapers on the peninsula all appear to agree De Gea is an afterthought for the UEFA Champions League holders.
ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan also put Madrid in the driver's seat for his signature:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
New @unibet on Madrid at top of queue for Spain's next top keeper... https://t.co/lq6afidgWn2017-11-14 14:30:49
But the rumours linking De Gea with Madrid refuse to vanish. He's Spain's unquestioned top option and a local hero from his time at Atletico―he simply makes too much sense as a transfer target for Los Blancos.
Current starter Keylor Navas has been solid for the club, but he tends to switch between periods of excellence and mediocrity. He's also gained something of a reputation for costly blunders, although he more than makes up for it with key performances in big matches.
De Gea has committed his future to United at just about every turn since signing the new contract in 2015 and has yet to give any indication he's unhappy under manager Jose Mourinho.