Reports linking David de Gea with a return to Madrid are nothing new. The goalkeeper has long been tipped as the favoured shot-stopper at Real, and was perilously close to completing a transfer just 18 months ago.
But with each passing moment the ex-Atletico man looks less and less likely to move to the Bernabeu, and those chances are even more remote for as long as Jose Mourinho is holding court at Manchester United.
Keylor Navas, of course, enjoys the confidence of his famously demanding employers in the Spanish capital. The Costa Rica international has been first choice for the last two and a half seasons, and as Goal revealed he has won the respect of those in the club, from the dressing room to the supporters. His reaction to a failed switch to United only heightened his reputation as Navas buckled down and came back with some fantastic performances between the posts.
President Florentino Perez, however, has not forgotten about De Gea. He was the 'other man' in that transfer fiasco of August 2015 that would have seen Navas move the other way, when Madrid were looking for the keeper who would definitively replace club legend Iker Casillas. According to reports published by Jugones, De Gea remains in Madrid's plans and a summer bid worth up to €70 million is not out of the question.
It is easy to see why. De Gea is Spain's undisputed No. 1 at 26, a relatively young age for goalkeepers who tend to reach their prime later than their outfield companions. He is also four years younger than the current occupant of the Blanco net, and while previous efforts to land him have failed Madrid have never crossed him off their wishlist.
But if the reigning Champions League holders do want to complete this blockbuster signing, they will have to negotiate several serious obstacles. First and foremost is the less than ideal relationship between the Spaniards and United.
The rivalry between the two giants has grown in recent years, encompassing both sporting and financial matters and heightened by the sales of David Beckham, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Cristiano Ronaldo to Santiago Bernabeu.
The frustrated De Gea-Navas switch aptly demonstrated the bad blood. There was a total breakdown in communications between the clubs, and each came out publicly to blame the other for the embarrassing episode. It is clearly not the best backdrop for what would be one of the biggest transfers of the entire summer window.
Mourinho's influence also looms large over a potential swoop. The former Real Madrid coach holds De Gea in the highest of regards, and he is not known as a manager who will sit back and let his best players be stolen from underneath his nose. Nor will United. De Gea is on his way to 300 appearances for the Red Devils, and over the past six years he has become a true fan favourite at Old Trafford.
Three successive Player of the Year awards at United in the last three seasons may say something about the limitations of the giants in recent times, but it also gives some indication to the goalkeeper's importance to the club. For that reason, he will not be allowed to leave without a fight.
Even in the best of cases, De Gea's potential transfer fee this summer would doubtlessly smash the record for a goalkeeper in world football. But the issue is far from just financial. Madrid will have to battle both United and the formidable Mourinho if they are to have any hope of landing their coveted prize.