LONDON (Guardian) - Manchester United have responded to Real Madrid's bid for David de Gea by telling the Spanish club they want to sign Sergio Ramos.
The 29-year-old central defender , who has 128 caps for Spain, has an official buyout clause of €180 million (S$273 million) but his contract at the Bernabeu expires in July 2017 and United are believed to think they have a chance of signing Ramos without having to meet that figure.
Real Madrid have already had an initial bid for de Gea turned down, believed to be in the region of €18m. Representatives then travelled to the UK for a meeting at which they requested United set a price for the goalkeeper.
Madrid remain convinced they will eventually sign de Gea, who has one year left on his contract and wants to return to Spain, and anticipated a meeting that would be a formality. Instead they met a counter-bid: You want de Gea, we want Ramos.
The central defender has been at Real Madrid for 10 seasons since joining from Sevilla for €27m when he was still a teenager. He has played more than 400 games for Madrid and is the vice-captain but negotiations over a new contract have been at a standstill for some time. There have been significant hints of tension between the player and the club, encouraging United in their pursuit.
There has been interest from other clubs in Europe but none have communicated that directly to Madrid. Real deny having any offers at all. The Barcelona presidential candidate, Jordi Majo, claimed he had been indirectly offered Ramos two days ago. Real Madrid did not deny that story but the player's camp did.
Ramos has two years left on the deal he signed in 2011, meaning Madrid's hand may not yet be forced - certainly not to the extent that they believe United's has been forced regarding De Gea.
It is unusual for Madrid to allow a player's deal to enter into the final two years, though. According to calculations by the Spanish sports daily AS, 11 of the past 14 renewals undertaken by the president, Florentino Perez, have been finalised before this stage.