Reports in most newspapers at the moment claim that Manchester United are lining up a deal with Real Madrid that would see David de Gea leave the club with Gareth Bale signing for us.
Adam Crafton, who is a journalist for The Daily Mail, has written several articles on De Gea and has a good insight to player’s past, as well as his potential future, and has answered a few questions on the player.
Why did David De Gea leave Atletico?
De Gea left Atletico because Manchester United came calling. It is that simple. Remember, too, that despite Atletico’s remarkable success in recent times, they do seem to be a selling club (see Aguero, Costa, Filipe Luis etc). They develop players and move them on.
Did he choose United over other clubs – if so, who?
Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes were very secure at Real Madrid and Barcelona at the time of his transfer to United. Barcelona did make a couple of attempts to sign David as a teenager. They made one particularly strong attempt when David was 14 years old but they were unable to force through the move.
How does he feel about United? And living in Manchester?
I should make clear that I do not know De Gea personally but I know a lot of people who are close to him and there is no doubt that he is very, very happy at Manchester United. He is now one of their longest-serving players such has been the flux of recent times and he is enjoying the responsibility that comes with this.
When I met with Emilio Alvarez Blanco (his goalkeeping coach at Atletico Madrid and close family friend) for an interview for the Daily Mail, he said this: ‘David suffered the effect of ‘choque’ when he moved and so did his family. He had a frankly difficult time at the start and he needed them. He was feeling lonely, he was fearing that he couldn’t be a great goalkeeper. He doubted whether he could do it out there. He was really anxious.
‘His family were always on to me. “Emilio, help us with this – David had two great years working with you, now it’s not going as well”, I explained it’s normal, with the change of environment, and to move to Manchester. It’s a different lifestyle, language, weather, food and a club as big as United. Old Trafford, Manchester, Sir Alex Ferguson, that’s something else. When you are so young, that’s hard. David was feeling alone and he wasn’t at his best in the first two years at United. He made some amazing saves, the odd brilliant match, but it was flashes of his potential. David showed his class but at Atletico he was brilliant almost every week.
‘Marivi and Jose [his parents] found themselves in a different place, they are a humble family. They lived in a small town in Illescas and the family are incredibly close. They had a tight nucleus of friends and family and they left that for Manchester. It’s another world. Difficult for David and his parents. They live together still.’
With his Atletico roots, would a transfer to Real be viable?
When I visited his first youth club, affiliated to Atletico Madrid in Toledo and where De Gea began at the age of 6, the answer to this was unanimous. Atleti supporters would not hold a grudge if De Gea were to join Real Madrid. Such was his respect for the club when the United move came about, the fans there hold him in the highest regards and only wish him well.
Personally, I still find it hard to believe there won’t be a few boos if he turns out in Real colours at the Calderon but I don’t think it will be an issue that plays a major part in his decision making.
Alvarez Blanco said: ‘In this case, it would not be a problem with the Atletico link. David has a great personality, he was excellent for them but he has always spoken of them with respect and he has not created any problems. Ok, he was great there but the fans would not be annoyed.’
Would it be a possibility for him to see out the majority/all of his career at United?
In truth, dad Jose and mum Marivi – who mostly live with De Gea in Manchester – are thought to enjoy the stress-free English lifestyle and have little desire to see De Gea return to the burning spotlight of the Spanish game.
As one source close to the family said just a fortnight ago: ‘They are super-happy in Manchester. If it was all up to them, they would prefer for him to stay here. In Spain, there would be huge pressure. You have four newspapers per day devoted to Real and Barcelona, invading your privacy. To replace Iker Casillas for both Spain and Real Madrid – can you imagine the scrutiny he would face?’
It is believed that De Gea’s parents would like him to remain at Old Trafford in the long-term. They are certainly in no hurry to leave Manchester, where they have now found a close circle of friends. They have emerged through a testing settling-in period, in which both the player and his parents regularly questioned his suitability for the English game.
It was even suggested to me recently that De Gea and his family would be happy enough to spend the rest of his career at United. That may be pre-emptive but it does reflect his happiness in Manchester at the moment.