Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho appears to have closed the David de Gea-Real Madrid saga, for this summer at least, after offering his personal 'guarantee' that the Spanish goalkeeper will not be leaving Old Trafford for the Bernabeu any time soon.
"I can guarantee that he is not going this season," Mourinho categorically stated to reporters in the United States over the weekend (ManUtd.com).
Speculation in Spain over a summer move began in the final months of last season - two years on from a previous proposed transfer infamously falling through. It appeared Real had given up earlier in the summer, but this month it was once more reported that United still expected another approach from Los Blancos, even though their intention remained not to sell.
"My feeling is it will very difficult for him to go. He is a very honest, straight boy. He was contacted for a long time, the club was closed and then we opened," Mourinho continued, seemingly suggesting the choice to stay is De Gea's just as much as United's.
"I always have this feeling when a player has a desire to go, then I don't like to stop players because you don't get from them what you expect from them if they want to move and they don't. So we opened it and then they decided to close it.
"I see him really happy, focused, working better than ever and 100 per cent he stays with us."
Part of the renewed speculation rested on the fact that United have a top understudy in Sergio Romero, the club's number one in Europe last season and a player who has now committed his future by signing a new four-year contract earlier this summer - something many wrongly interpreted as an admittance on United's part that De Gea would be going.
Mourinho sees it differently, suggesting the presence and form of Romero has actually served to improve and help De Gea become a better goalkeeper. It must also be noted that the pair have a very strong personal relationship despite competing against each for other.
"I think the best thing that could happen to David was the way Romero played last season, because until then David was clearly a safe man, a safe choice and after what Romero did last season David thinks he's training in another way," Mourinho said.
"David is much better now than before and he has amazing conditions to progress. So to have both at the level, they can be is fantastic for me and it gives me the chance to choose the players in relation to the moment, and in relation to the qualities of the opponent because obviously they are different goalkeepers."