De Gea came agonisingly close to joining the Blancos in August 2015 only for an infamous administrative error on transfer deadline day to scupper the move.
De Gea responded days later by signing a new four-year deal with United, but there has been heightened talk in recent days of a new move by Madrid to sign him after the 26-year-old’s girlfriend, Edurne Garcia, was seen house-hunting in the Spanish capital.
Garcia once claimed Manchester to be “uglier than the back of a fridge” and her desire to live in Spain full-time has long been cited as one of the major attractions for the Spain No.1 to move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
But Goal sources in Spain say there is no change in Madrid’s plans for the summer, with Belgian shot-stopper Courtois their clear favourite in the market as they look for improvements on current first-choice Keylor Navas.
Goal explained in a February exclusive how Madrid’s interest in Courtois had pushed Chelsea to track Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, who replaced the Belgian at the Vicente Calderon after three years on loan from Stamford Bridge.
And there has since been no significant renewed interest in De Gea, with his partner’s house-hunting seemingly incidental to Madrid’s summer plans.
While it is believed that Madrid’s kit suppliers would prefer for the club to sign De Gea since he is also sponsored by the brand, Courtois is very much the Blancos’ preferred target.
Courtois has appeared 97 times in three seasons at Stamford Bridge since pushing Petr Cech out of the first-choice spot under Jose Mourinho. He missed only six games in the Blues’ title win in 2014-15 and has been an ever-present in Antonio Conte’s side this term as they have moved to the verge of another Premier League success.
Manchester United boss Mourinho insisted earlier this season that he had no concern over a potential approach by Madrid for De Gea due to the relationships he formed during his time as Blancos boss between 2010 and 2013.
"With Florentino Perez and his right arm Jose Angel Sanchez, they are some of the people in football that I can say I did not 'work' for them and then it was over," he said. "I can say that we are friends forever, big friends. I like them a lot. Friends speak, friends are open, friends are honest.
"So if at the end of the season I want one of their players or they want one of our players we will not do it through the press. We are going to exchange messages. We will be very direct. So they are one of the clubs that I am not worried about at all."
De Gea joined United in a £17.8 million deal from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and has gone on to build a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, winning the club Player of the Year award three years running between 2013 and 2016.