Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is rumoured to be in talks alongside agent Jorge Mendes to buy and take ownership of second tier Spanish club Elche CF.
De Gea committed his long-term future to United when he recently signed a new contact until at least 2023, but it seems the 28-year-old is already looking even further down the road.
The town of Elche is situated on Spain’s south east coast near Alicante. But despite De Gea famously hailing from Madrid, he is believed to have a long-standing affection for the club and has even been pictured at games when he has had the opportunity to go.
In May, one Costa Brava newspaper published a picture of De Gea meeting veteran Elche star Nino and referred to the 38-year-old, who played his first games for Elche in the late 1990s, as one of De Gea’s ‘boyhood idols’. The same report claimed De Gea and his father are members of Elche’s supporters club.
The news of De Gea’s interest in buying Elche was first heard from a local radio station and has been shared in English by Sport Witness. It is said that De Gea and Mendes, who represents the goalkeeper, have been in contact with Elche majority shareholder José Sepulcre.
They are apparently prepared to offer €18m to take control of the club, although it is also said that Sepulcre has been in talks with another agent about a possible deal as well.
Elche are not currently in La Liga and even dropped down as far as Spain’s third tier in 2017/18, but they spent back-to-back seasons in the top flight as recently as 2013/14 and 2014/15. They were also a La Liga club for much of the 1960s and 1970s, finishing as high as fifth in 1963/64.
If a deal can be agreed, De Gea would not be the first high profile footballer to take ownership of a club, even whilst still playing. Fellow Spaniard Gerard Pique is an obvious recent example after the Barcelona defender bought FC Andorra, now in Spain’s third tier, in 2018.
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba was simultaneously a player and owner at Phoenix Rising in the United States and has ambitions to get the club into Major League Soccer.
Others have waited until retirement to dip into ownership. David Beckham founded Inter Miami in January 2018 and the new club will join MLS in time for the 2020 season.
A number of Beckham’s former Manchester United teammates, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, famously bought a 50% stake non-league Salford City in 2014 and have since overseen a rise into the Football League. Beckham himself joined in 2019.
Brazilian icon Ronaldo became a minority owner of the now defunct Florida club Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2014, and more recently purchased 51% of La Liga’s Real Valladolid in 2018.