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Is David De Gea on His Way Out of Manchester United?

Dean Jones@DeanJonesBRFootball Insider at Bleacher ReportNovember 27, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: David de Gea of Manchester United reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on November 24, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Amid a complicated contract saga that has been drawn out over the past year, there are suggestions now that David De Gea is preparing to leave Manchester United.

The Spain international goalkeeper began discussions over his future at Old Trafford in January, yet over the course of the year, the club have failed to nail him down to a new deal.

The situation has become frustrating from every angle—player, club and agents—and over the weekend the story took a new twist when Joe Bernstein of the Mail on Sunday claimed De Gea is going to join Paris Saint-Germain next summer.

As his contract in Manchester begins to wind down, can United really afford for him to leave?

Jon Super/Associated Press

De Gea has been the club's most consistent player over the past five years. He has won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award four times in that period, and last season he won the Premier League Golden Glove for the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets.

Considering United's lack of success over that period, and playing under four permanent managers since joining in 2011, the awards say much about the 28-year-old's impressive displays and focus.

This season has seemed more difficult, given his four clean sheets in 17 matches, yet United's overall defending and manager Jose Mourinho's tactics could also be to blame for that.

De Gea remains regarded as one of the world's best goalkeeping talents—so why haven't United signed him up?

In August, Steve Bates of the Mirror reported a breakthrough had been made and United would be signing De Gea on a new £200,000-per-week contract. Yet it never happened.

Sources close to De Gea claim the agreement was never close—and that such terms would not have been agreed because it would have left him undervalued.

As reward for his consistency and high levels of performance, the goalkeeper's representatives privately claim he has done enough to warrant the highest salary on the team. According to Duncan Castles of the Daily Record, there is a belief he should be on par with top earners Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez, who have done little to deserve their £290,000-per-week basic wage.

De Gea has refused to publicly speak about the way talks have stalled, but the situation is now at a crucial stage.

His contract ends next summer, and while United do have the option to automatically trigger an extra year to 2020, the failure to announce a long-term deal would signal failure. It would leave him open to speak to foreign clubs and agree to a pre-contract.

With that in mind, could there be significance in the links of a move to Paris?

Neil Henderson @hendopolis

MAIL SPORT. De Gea in £60m move to PSG #tomorrowspaperstoday https://t.co/qFNJn5jB9v

In his time at United, four clubs have closely monitored his situation—Real Madrid, Juventus, PSG and Chelsea. He almost joined Los Blancos in 2015, but apart from that, United have had little to worry about.

PSG would offer French domestic titles, big money...and a shot at winning the UEFA Champions League, but experts in France are doubtful about the possibilities of such a transfer.

It's a tricky time for the club financially, and sources in Paris are adamant that signing a goalkeeper is not a priority, even if they had free rein in the transfer market.

The club's financial fair play issues are being played out with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and it would take some major activity for any deal for De Gea to come to fruition. 

One of the only paths to this would be the exit of a superstar, as explained by Paris-based journalist Jonathan Johnson.

"Depending how this season plays out, particularly in the Champions League, PSG could part with one of Neymar or Kylian Mbappe next summer and move for De Gea as part of a major restructuring of the squad," he told B/R.

"That would either see Gianluigi Buffon discarded or moved into a set backup role, and Alphonse Areola either sold or loaned out. Such a radical process is not part of PSG's thinking right now and it is possible that current sporting director Antero Henrique would not oversee it—if it were to happen at all.

"A scenario where PSG boast De Gea, Buffon, Areola and potentially Kevin Trapp (currently on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt) as options between the sticks is unrealistic."

PSG are trying to tie Areola down to a new contract, and Buffon looks likely to play on for at least one more season after a decent start to life at the Parc des Princes. 

Is there any way that the De Gea deal makes sense?

"If FFP is killed by CAS, then things could change as PSG will have greater financial flexibility on the transfer market and could finally reshape their squad," adds Johnson. "However, a big-money move for a goalkeeper, of all positions, when at least one new midfielder is needed and has been demanded by coach Thomas Tuchel, is illogical."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 13:  David De Gea of Manchester United pose for a photo with his Premier League Golden Glove Award prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Watford at Old Trafford on May 13, 2018 in Manchester, England.  (
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

That is a slice of good news for United fans, who cannot believe the club would consider having to replace De Gea. 

"It's probably fair to say that De Gea is United's only world-class performer," says Ed Barker of United Rant. "Others have the potential but are not nearly as consistent. To those of us who spotted his potential before he signed, he feels like a son; a youngster who has become a man at the club."

Sources around Manchester have always been of the belief that De Gea is not particularly interested in a move to PSG. They believe that if he left United his first choice would be Real Madrid, and if that was not possible, then Juventus would be much higher on his list.

The Italians are certainly monitoring his situation—they have been for the past year-and-a-half. As one Italian contact told B/R: "His contract talks have meant Juve are very interested—but if he was to join, it would have be on a contract that was still not up to the level of the very highest earners on the team."

Putting a value on someone such as De Gea is difficult, but Barker added: "On the pitch he won United double-digit points last season. Financially, millions will be required for a suitable replacement with absolutely no guarantee that United's dysfunctional transfer strategy will come up with the right solution."

All of which begs the question, wouldn't it be easier to just pay De Gea what he feels he is worth?

United are living through a period of continued uncertainty about whether they can even reach the Premier League's top four. It is fair to assume De Gea set his sights much higher than that.

A source in Spain told B/R: "It was the size of the club that enticed him back in 2011. He thought he would win everything at Manchester United. I think it is fair to say he does love the club, and the support he has had there from supporters has been fantastic, but what more can he really achieve? There is no sign of them being at the very top level soon."

Scott Paterson is a United fan and blogger. Even he thinks De Gea should probably leave.

"I don't think there are many United fans who would begrudge him the move," he told B/R. "He would have three Champions League titles now if it hadn't been for the broken fax machine that stopped his move to Real Madrid.

"We've had him for way longer than I thought. When he signed I thought he would leave by the time he was 25, so best of luck to him."

The message from inside the club is that they have not given up and the fight is not over. They have the clause to keep him at Old Trafford for an extra year until 2020, but they also believe he will play at United beyond that time.

No one outside of that seems so sure, and various sources believe a move to Juventus and a genuine chance to win the Champions League is an option that would prove difficult to turn down...even if he isn't the top earner.