Here’s the political background of Real Madrid trying to buy David De Gea from Manchester United

David De Gea is coming to Real Madrid from Manchester United.

Almost surely this summer, but possibly even next summer or some summer in the future. But he is coming to Madrid.

Florentino Perez, Real Madrid’s president, has been plotting this for a couple years now. Ever since Mourinho killed Iker Casillas, Florentino has been planning to replace him with De Gea.

Originally, his plan was for Casillas to leave in the summer of 2014. Casillas had reportedly agreed to leave as well. But then, Real Madrid won La Decima, and as emotions ran high, Florentino and Casillas agreed to stay in each other’s arms. Despite his mistake in the final, Casillas had been brilliant throughout the Champtions League title run, and after getting a massive ovation from the Bernabeu faithful during the team celebrations, Florentino decided that he could not move Casillas just yet.

Throughout all of this, David De Gea was always seen as the natural successor. For starters, he’s a local (his Atletico de Madrid roots notwithstanding), and he’s seen as Casillas’ eventual replacement on the Spanish national team. Also, he’s pretty much the consensus third best keeper in the world behind Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois (both of whom are probably unattainable signings for Real Madrid at this point). De Gea, however, is more available.

It was all lining up quite nicely this summer. Casillas was finally booted out. De Gea’s contract situation was not resolved, putting Manchester United against the ropes as he will become a free agent in a year. United can either sell him now and get some value out of him, or let him walk for free. If De Gea is allowed to become a free agent, he would arguably be the biggest free agent in the history of soccer. So obviously, United is in a tough spot.

But theeeeeennnnn a skirmish broke out on Real Madrid’s eastern front. A battle had been brewing between Florentino Perez and Sergio Ramos for a while now, and it finally came to a head early this summer. Sergio Ramos informed the club that he wanted to leave, and that he wanted to leave to Manchester United. United was reportedly offering Ramos 11 million euros after taxes, almost twice as much as he’s earning at Madrid.

This caught Real Madrid’s management off guard. They never saw it coming. Now, all of a sudden, the club’s perfectly laid plans went out the door. Manchester United’s negotiating position became much stronger, and Louis van Gaal made sure everyone knew it.

So Real Madrid was in the position of having to choose between De Gea or Ramos. That is not an easy choice. United made it clear that if it was going to sell De Gea this season, it wanted Ramos in return.

Sergio Ramos is an institution at Real Madrid. He’s been at the club for 10 years. He’s won literally every trophy for both club and country. He’s the hero of La Decima, scoring in the final minute to send the game into extra time. La Decima was an obsession at Real Madrid, and Ramos was the man who made it happen (he also scored two goals to kill Bayern Munich in the semifinal). He’s been the de facto captain at the club during Iker Casillas’ dark final years, and now he’s the actual captain. He is the heir to Fernando Hierro, the best defender the club has ever had. Losing him would cause an outright institutional crisis.

And Florentino knows this. As suspicious as he is of players who gain too much power, he knows that he doesn’t have the political capital to just sell Ramos. At the height of the crisis, Florentino flew to China in the middle of the team’s preseason tour to personally meet with Ramos and smooth things over. According to Spanish Radio Station Onda Cero, Florentino said to Ramos “If I sell you, I would have to resign the next day.” This apparently went a long way towards making Ramos feel valued.

Andy Dubbin/Fusion

Just as it looked like the situation had calmed down, Real Madrid did a dumb thing and leaked that the deal was done, and Marca put it on the cover. This angered Ramos, who then leaked to Cadena SER that the deal was not done at all, and that he wanted 10 million euros while the club only offered 8.5 million.

It looks like things have calmed down once again, and SER is now reporting that a deal has been agreed upon in principle. United is understandably pissed at Sergio Ramos, as it is now left without its ace in hand in the De Gea negotiations.

This morning, van Gaal announced that De Gea will not start in the season opener against Tottenham. I doubt United is planning to keep De Gea on as a backup.

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