Manchester United's David de Gea. Photo: Getty
Manchester United risk losing David De Gea unless they make him their highest-paid player alongside Alexis Sanchez in a deal that reflects his status as their outstanding performer over the past five seasons.
De Gea, 28, wants to stay and the Spain No 1 - arguably the world's best goalkeeper - is hopeful the contract stand-off will be resolved.
But having seen Sanchez join from Arsenal last year on a deal worth around £500,000 (€583,000) a week once bonuses and image rights are factored in, De Gea believes his contribution warrants a similar financial reward.
De Gea will enter the final 12 months of his £240,000-a-week contract this summer and he is understood to be holding out for a total deal worth around double that, having been named United's player of the year in four of the past five seasons.
Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are among the clubs monitoring De Gea's situation and Thibaut Courtois whose struggles at Real Madrid following the Belgium goalkeeper's £35 million move from Chelsea last summer have not gone unnoticed.
Real have been long-term admirers of De Gea, whose proposed move to the Spanish giants in 2015 collapsed on transfer-deadline day.
United, who invoked an option in November to extend De Gea's deal until the end of next season, are thought to harbour concerns about agent fees driving up costs.
But suggestions that Jorge Mendes’s demands are holding up contract talks over De Gea are understood to have caused much irritation at his Gestifute agency.
United are known to have been bemused by reports that they were unwilling to offer De Gea a basic pay package of about £350,000 a week (€408,000) given that securing the goalkeeper’s future is considered a priority, but they have yet to meet his demands for a Sanchez-size deal.
Manchester City pulled out of a move for Sanchez amid fears his wage demands would obliterate their salary structure and lead to others asking for big pay hikes, which could, in turn, disrupt dressing-room harmony.
United were willing to pay Sanchez what he wanted but the impasse over De Gea is the clearest sign yet of the adverse impact of the Chilean’s arrival on such a huge contract.
The situation has also been compounded by Sanchez’s dismal form since his arrival 13 months ago, with United’s key players now wondering how their own salaries can be dwarfed by someone who struggles to get in the team when everyone is fit.
Sanchez, 30, has scored just five goals in 40 games for United and admitted this month that his poor form “worries” him.
United have the biggest annual Premier League wage bill of £295.9m (€344.9m), which accounts for 50.2pc of turnover, a healthy figure but nonetheless up from 45.3pc in 2016-17.
United are unlikely to panic over De Gea – who has been excited by the resurgence under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – and remain optimistic that the situation will be resolved.
Meanwhile, United have until the end of today to trigger a 12-month extension to Antonio Valencia’s contract or the Ecuador defender will be available as a free agent this summer.
Valencia has played twice since the end of December and is sidelined with a recurrence of a calf injury.