Real legend Iker Casillas insists he would welcome the Manchester United goalkeeper to the Bernabeu, even though it could signal the end of his own career.

De Gea is stalling on a new United deal worth £200,000 a week and was spotted in Madrid yesterday with his pop star girlfriend.

United boss Louis van Gaal still hopes his player of the years stay put at Old Trafford.

But Casillas says he is the one who told Real president Florentino Perez to sign up the 24-year-old.

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He said: “If De Gea does come here, he’ll be welcomed.

“He can handle pressure and the experience he has had at Manchester United will have served him well.

“Florentino once asked me if it were up to me, which keeper would I sign.

“I prefer Spanish keepers – Sergio Rico, Sergio Asenjo and De Gea. Right now, De Gea is the expert out of the three.”

The Spain international, who joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and has just enjoyed an outstanding season under Van Gaal.

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He is massively tempted by a return home and United could be forced to cash in.

Casillas isn’t ready to give up his position at the Bernabeu without a fight though after playing more than 700 games for the Spanish giants.

But he believes De Gea has what it takes to fill his boots if he becomes one of the first signings of likely new Real boss Rafa Benitez.

The 34-year-old added: “If he comes we’ll have to compete for a place like we do with Spain. De Gea is a great kid and a goalkeeper for the present and the future.

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“I have no plans to leave Real Madrid. I’ll confront next season as though it is my first.

“That’s the challenge I’ve set on myself. Contrary to the rumours doing the rounds, the club has told me to stay.

“Competition is healthy – there is no clause in my contract which states that I have to be first choice.”

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