The 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in this weekend’s El Classico has left Real Madrid in turmoil. The fans and players have started to vocally turn on manager Rafa Benitez and President Florentino Perez’s vote of confidence won’t subdue their disdain.
In these situations there are two quick fixes every Madrid president in the past has been quick to use: fire the manager and appease the fans with new big-money signings.
Benitez has been a dead-man walking from the start. Key players didn’t appreciate the manner in which former manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was offloaded. The most vocal in disgust back then was Cristiano Ronaldo, the man who has been quoted as saying either he goes or Benitez does. This alone means the Spaniard is doomed, regardless of what was said during Monday’s press conference.
There’s no lack of talent at the club. The £23m summer signing of full-back Danilo may have been their only major spend but he joins a cast constructed from previous seasons’ massive splurges, such as £71m on James Rodriguez, £85m for Gareth Bale, with ‘bargain’ buys Isco and Keylor Navas thrown in.
These players complemented a side that was already a worthy Champions League contender and contained the aforementioned Ronaldo, who many see as the best in the world. This makes the task of bringing in a name fans will appreciate even harder. With this in mind, Perez will also look to where he sees a deficiency in his side.
After a 4-0 defeat it’s easy to lay blame at the defence. In reality El Clasico was lost because of the balance in the Madrid midfield, so its with irony Perez’s main target is a goalkeeper. It’s also the return to a summer long saga. Despite messing up the paperwork and causing a PR nightmare for themselves and the intended player, David De Gea, it seems Madrid are ready to go back and get their man.
The Spanish ‘keeper has a release clause that varies from £25m to £30m depending on the source, and it seems Madrid are happy to meet it. Its existence makes sense. After a period where it looked like the young starlet was enduring a messy divorce, he managed to refocus and agree a contract extension.
— The United Stand (@UnitedStandMUFC) November 22, 2015
On the face of it this appeared to be a massive U-turn. Why would a disgruntled player, with his heart set on a future in his homeland, price himself out of the market? It seems that he knew the only way he could have a productive season was to end speculation. Louis van Gaal had made it clear he was happy to keep De Gea on the bench if he wasn’t 100% focused.
The new contract suited both parties. By adding the clause it gave Manchester United a guaranteed return, it gave De Gea a definite exit route. But what was good business and a quick remedy for United then doesn’t mean it’s right to just accept his departure in the future.
Some players are invaluable to a team. David De Gea is the jewel in the Old Trafford crown. If they lose him in the summer the Theatre of Dreams will wait longer before making a 21st league title a reality.
People have tried to place a points value on De Gea. It’s almost too impossible to accurately work out. Is it 10 points, 15 or 20 that he adds each year? He certainly gave the Red Devils an extra two over the weekend. Any guess at this moment in time would be conservative at best.
Over in Madrid things are far from rosy. Their best player is demanding the manager goes or he does. In Trafford, if United sell De Gea it will lead to failure for van Gaal, resulting in the loss of star man and manager.
It’s a delicate period in Manchester United’s revival after the Moyes era, and they can’t afford to lose David De Gea.