Reports in Spain claim David de Gea has already set his heart on a move to Real Madrid when the transfer window reopens this summer.
Since leaving the Spanish capital for Manchester United in 2011, the former Atletico youngster has overcome a difficult start to life in England to establish himself as perhaps the best goalkeeper in the Premier League. Indeed, his heroics this season have played a huge role in the Reds push for a top-four finish, and this has been recognised by a PFA Player of the Year nomination.
De Gea is out of contract at Old Trafford at the end of next season, but Louis van Gaal is understandably desperate to persuade the 24-year-old to extend his stay in Manchester. But the Spain international has been linked with a move to Real for some time now, and it is widely expected that the European champions will make their move for his signature during the coming summer.
Iker Casillas remains as number one at Los Blancos, as he has for much of the time since making his debut 16 years ago, but he is no longer considered to be the safe pair of hands which made him arguably the best in the world. As well as the honours he has won at the Bernabeu, he captained Spain to World Cup glory in 2010 and success at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.
De Gea would be the obvious choice to succeed Casillas, and journalist Josep Pedrerol has told Spanish television channel Le Sexta that the United star has already agreed to join them this summer. The Premier League giants will naturally do all they can to keep their goalkeeper, but if he has decided his future lies elsewhere, his contract situation will make it difficult for them.
How much United will seek to agree to the sale of de Gea will be interesting, and there is the possibility they could ask for Gareth Bale as part of the deal. The Wales international enjoyed a sensational debut season at Real, but he has become the subject of some frankly unfair criticism from their fans of late; yet despite this, the former Tottenham Hotspur ace is said to be determined to stay.
If de Gea does bid farewell to United, then at least van Gaal already has an ideal replacement. The Dutch coach persuaded free agent and Barcelona legend Victor Valdes to join the Reds earlier this season, and although he has yet to make his debut, the 33-year-old has fully recovered from a serious knee injury and is said to have settled well in England and is raring to be given a chance.
If United have little choice but to let de Gea join Real Madrid during the summer, how much should the Reds demand for the signature of their superb number one?