The transfer saga linking Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea with a return to Spain looks set to reach its close in the coming days as Real Madrid also home in on the talents of Real Betis wonder kid Dani Ceballos.
The odds of De Gea being sold by his club may be affected by the revelation that a majority of Manchester United fans want their No. 1 to be sold, according to an online poll by the Manchester Evening News (via Spanish newspaper AS):
|David De Gea Summer Exit Poll|
|Opinion||Percent of Vote|
|Sell De Gea and buy replacement||45|
|Let De Gea leave for free in 2016||32|
|Sell De Gea without buying replacement||23|
|Manchester Evening News (via AS)|
The vote revealed that 45 percent want to see the Spanish stopper sold and a replacement brought in, while 32 percent are in favour of holding onto his talent and losing him for free when his contract expires next summer.
United have at least prepared themselves for any potential De Gea departure by bringing in Argentina international Sergio Romero, who previously worked under United manager Louis van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar.
De Gea was far from his best as the Red Devils fell to a 2-0 defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday. Following that loss, Van Gaal admitted De Gea's situation is far from ideal, per BBC Sport's Simon Stone:
"We have a situation that is not favourable for David De Gea, neither for us and neither for the club that, maybe, he wants to go."
Real's public pursuit of the former Atletico Madrid youngster led to a stand-off between the two clubs, with United reluctant to let De Gea leave unless centre-back Sergio Ramos moves in the opposite direction.
Samuel Luckhurst of MEN highlights De Gea's ongoing transfer concern as one of United's key obstacles still in need of solving this summer:
Fan opinion will only weigh so heavily on the minds of the Manchester United hierarchy, but it's a factor worth accounting for if even the supporters have lost patience with last season's Player of the Year.
The Premier League giants are faced with a conundrum that could come to impact their 2015-16 campaign drastically, but the question remains as to whether De Gea will stay or go.
Real In For Betis Starlet Ceballos
After impressing in Spain's second tier, Real Betis midfielder Ceballos is alleged to have attracted Real Madrid's attention this summer, and Los Merengues are ready to make their approach.
That's according to Miguel Angel Moran of Spanish newspaper Marca, who claims the 18-year-old is a priority for the La Liga giants in securing the next generation of Spanish talent.
It will cost Rafa Benitez's side a pretty penny, though, after Inside Spanish Football's Tom Conn cited AS reporting that Betis had increased their playmaker's release clause from €3 million to €12 million.
Moran adds that Ceballos has told the club he wants to move, but Betis president Juan Carlos Ollero spoke to radio station Cadena COPE this week (via ESPN FC's Adriana Garcia), insisting no contact has been made: "I'm certain. I would think Real Madrid would have the sufficient courtesy to approach us. The intention to renew Ceballos' contract is something that we have wanted to do since September of last season."
The contract in question expires next summer, but Moran's report alleges that an adjustment in wages could see Betis extend the deal by a year as Ceballos is under the age of 23.
The central string-puller recently feature prominently for Spain's under-19 side as they rose to claim the European Under-19 Championship, where beIN Sports' David Cartlidge viewed him as the star of the show:
Real managed to lure wing sensation Marco Asensio from Mallorca last summer, while Marca reports of another young prodigy closing in on the Bernabeu—Zaragoza centre-back Jesus Vallejo.
It stands out as good news for Real Madrid fans and the depth of their resources, but Spanish football writer Jamie Kemp views the situation as a monopoly of Spain's best emerging talent:
Real's success may be built on their ability to purchase some of the world's best in-form talents, but the pursuit of Ceballos shows another shade to the club's transfer strategy.
Like many clubs in the past, Betis will undoubtedly try to keep hold of their valued asset, but the allure of Real Madrid is likely to prove too strong.