Real Madrid have been down a goalkeeper since selling Iker Casillas, and have continued to pursue David De Gea as his replacement. But they signed Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla on Friday, meaning they now have two perfectly capable professional goalkeepers in their squad. Good news for Manchester United, right?
Maybe. Casilla's arrival at the Bernabeu means that Louis van Gaal and everyone else at United now have just under six months to convince De Gea that he's better off at United than Madrid. Wages aren't an issue -- United basically have unlimited money and will match whatever salary Madrid are offering -- so their argument will come down to sporting and lifestyle factors.
The incredible thing about this saga is how sure both sides are that they're going to win this battle. Usually, when a player has one year left on his contract and wants to leave, the club he's with will negotiate a sale in order to avoid losing him for free. Madrid, knowing this, have made a series of lowball offers. United haven't really negotiated. Instead, they've demanded the fee they'd want for De Gea if he had a few more years on his contract and they had no reason to want to sell him. They've given Madrid the option of selling them Sergio Ramos on the cheap as well. But Madrid won't raise their offer and they won't accept a bid for Ramos.
Either United think that they can get De Gea to re-sign or they think the replacements they're targeting will be much more available next summer than they are right now. Madrid aren't willing to pay the extra money because they're confident De Gea will sign for them for free next summer.
You'd think a club as big as Real Madrid, with lots of money and demanding supporters, would just want their club to offer up whatever it costs to sign Spain's No. 1 goalkeeper. Surprisingly -- either because of De Gea's previous Atletico Madrid allegiance or because they've suddenly gotten frugal -- 70 percent of fans that voted in a MARCA poll want Keylor Navas to be the No. 1 goalkeeper this season, as opposed to paying United's asking price for De Gea. And why not? Madrid did well enough last season with Casillas between the sticks, and Navas is better. Buying De Gea now or waiting could be the difference between signing a world class defensive midifelder to replace Sami Khedira and not signing any new midfielders at all.
Both clubs think they don't have to compromise and will get whatever they want at the price they want to pay. Someone is wrong. Manchester United, you're on the clock.