Aston Villa could end up without their goalkeeper if David de Gea leaves Manchester United, and not because the Red Devils are planning to buy Emi Martinez…
De Gea has been a loyal servant to Man Utd for 11 years and has made the PFA Team of the Year five times since his €21 million transfer from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
But the winds of change are sweeping through Old Trafford this season, and Erik ten Hag is understood to be looking for a new goalkeeper with the modern game having evolved past De Gea's talents in recent seasons.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is the latest to be linked with a move to Man Utd, the Everton man bringing more ball-playing ability as well as counting as a homegrown player, but Ten Hag has a long-standing admiration for Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak.
And Oblak could be available. The Slovenian shot-stopper extended his Atletico contract in July, but his club are desperate to avoid the financial dire straits that befell Barcelona in recent seasons - hence restricting Antoine Griezmann to 30-minute cameos - and could be willing to cash in on a player rated at €42m by Football Transfers.
Champions League football
Diego Simeone has reportedly backed his Argentine compatriot Martinez as the man to succeed Oblak at the Estadio Metropolitano, and Atleti hope the likely offer of Champions League football next season will be enough to turn the Villa goalkeeper's head.
Martinez may have other ideas, though.
"Everyone will be low," he told Sky Sports recently after Villa's poor start to the season that has left Steven Gerrard's side 15th with just two wins from seven Premier League games.
"It's normal, it's part of football, you should be angry, you should be disappointed for not getting anything from the games, but that's what I like about my team."
Villa have Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen on their books if Martinez were to leave, while they have been linked with a move for Plymouth Argyle's Michael Cooper. And this time next year, De Gea might be looking for a new club…