What could easily have turned into one of the ongoing soap operas of the summer in San Sebastián could be resolved sooner that anyone expected. Real Sociedad are close to retaining in-demand goalkeeper Gero Rulli and while the final flecks of negotiations still need to be smoothed out, it looks like the Argentine keeper will get his wish and remain in Donosti - in effect, turning down an invitation to join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
La Real have reached an agreement with the three parties involved - with the player, with Uruguayan club CD Maldonado - who own the player's economic rights, and with Manchester City who placed themselves in the middle of negotiations and who have a vested interest in the third party which owns the goalkeeper (and as a result, have a preferential option to buy the player for 10 million euros) have backed out in respect of Rulli's own wishes to stay where he is.
Real Sociedad will pay CD Maldonado 7 million euros to acquire 70% stake of Rulli's economic rights while a new buy-out of 40 million euros will be set. Negotiations have been difficult for all parties involved and the agreement, which will include City having a first option on the player, has yet to be signed. Guardiola was very keen to sign the promising young goalkeeper but the player is happy at La Real where he is idolized by the fans, has been made to feel at home, gets on with all of his team mates and is the undisputed first choice. At City, apart from the difficulties of adapting to a new language, culture and style of football, he would have been second choice behind Joe Hart - and that would curb his ambitions with the Argentina national side just when he has started gaining regular call-ups from Tata Martino. Rulli will sign a six-year contract (which would expire when he reaches 30) and while the seven million euro payment could be subjected to increments for performance-related bonuses, it has been agreed that it will never exceed 10 million. From the third year of the contract, ownership will increase by another 10 per cent, and likewise for the final three years of the arrangement.
CD Maldonado also had to negotiate with Estudiantes de la Plata, where Rulli spent his formative years and where he still holds the club record for going nine games without conceding. The player is currently on holiday in Las Vegas, following a few days spent in New York.