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David de Gea the Real deal as Red Devils braced for record bid

Real Madrid, 11/4 second-favourites with Coral to retain the Champions League this term, have been strongly linked in the British press with preparing a world record bid for a goalkeeper, as they chase Manchester United’s David de Gea.

Capped three times for Spain, 24-year-old De Gea made a string of eight sensational saves and was voted Man of the Match as the Red Devils kept a clean sheet and defeated bitter rivals Liverpool in their last outing.

Seen as the natural successor to current La Roja and Real number one Iker Casillas, former Atletico stopper De Gea would have indirectly crossed the Madrid divide if any move materialises.

United are understood to be relaxed about the player’s contract situation, though, with De Gea’s current deal expiring in the summer of 2016. They have given former Barcelona custodian Victor Valdes the opportunity to train with them, as he steps up his recovery from a serious knee injury, and he could be a readymade replacement if Real launch their sensational swoop.

Juventus still hold the record for paying the most money for a goalie when they bought long-serving number one Gianluigi Buffon to Turin from Parma for £33m in 2001. A sum in excess of that would surely be tempting to both De Gea and the Old Trafford board.

As Louis van Gaal has had no Champions League football at United this term, his goalkeeper remains eligible to play in Europe’s elite club competition, if a January transfer move occurs to the Bernabeu.

Real recruited Costa Rica keeper Keylor Navas from Levante this past summer, while selling Diego Lopez (for a second time) to Serie A giants AC Milan, but the former has failed to make an impact in the Spanish capital.

Other alternatives open to the Red Devils instead of taking a punt on Valdes could be Southampton stopper Fraser Forster and Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris, who both now boast Premier League and European and experience respectively. United are strongly odds-on to finish in the top four this term at 1/6.