Louis van Gaal claims David de Gea bears little resemblance to the goalkeeper who rescued so many points for Manchester United last season.
United begin their Premier League campaign at home to Tottenham in today’s early kick-off but De Gea has been left out of the squad because he has been unsettled by talk of a move to Real Madrid, according to Van Gaal.
The United manager said he felt De Gea was incapable of focusing on the match in hand, which means 22-year-old Sam Johnstone looks set to make his debut against Tottenham at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal admitted United have “problems” with De Gea, who has been unable to “manage his situation,” according to the Dutchman.
The United boss claims it would be too much of a risk starting the 24-year-old against Spurs, so he looks set to turn to Johnstone — or new signing Sergio Romero.
“We’ve observed him in training sessions and matches and he’s not the David de Gea of last year,” Van Gaal said.
“He tries and does (his) utmost best, but it’s a difficult situation. Now we have to play our first match and I want players who can focus only on the match and he is not capable to do that. He shall not play.”
United have maintained all summer they will not sell De Gea to Real Madrid unless they get Sergio Ramos in return. That stance remains the same, despite Van Gaal’s latest terse words.
“No, I don’t think so,” Van Gaal said when asked if Real Madrid had matched their valuation of De Gea.
“We are asking money and they have to pay money. In recent years Manchester United have paid a lot of money on players and not received a lot for our players.
“He’s the best goalkeeper we’ve had for the last three years,” Van Gaal said. “The last two years he was nominated by the fans as the best player at the club. Do you think the coach wants him to leave? I don’t think so. The player still has to manage this situation.”
It is easy to see why United are so desperate to hold on to De Gea. The former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper played a huge part in United’s push for Champions League qualification and rightly earned his second successive player of the year award.
Van Gaal thinks the situation would not be so messy if the transfer window shut before the start of the season. He added: “I am the victim, the fellow players are the victims, the club is the victim. That’s why the transfer period has to change. When we are at September 1 then there is a decision because then the transfer period is over.”
Van Gaal also spoke for the first time about Angel di Maria’s exit from Old Trafford. “For us that’s a big loss,’” Van Gaal said.
“I want more attackers with speed and creativity. Di Maria is one of those players so we have to look for that kind of player, but they have to have the talent to cope with the English rhythm and that’s difficult to find.”
Explaining the events of the last few weeks when Di Maria failed to show up for United’s pre-season tour and then signed for PSG, Van Gaal said: “He left us very quickly (at the end of last season) because he had to go to the Copa America so I didn’t want to disturb him on his way to the final. I text him only messages (about) how it was with him and then PSG... and then we — us and PSG — have to consider if it (a transfer) is possible.
“When you don’t come on the tour on the day we agreed then you are showing you want to go to Paris St Germain.” United’s opponents today will announce a new signing in the next few days, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has revealed.
Spurs have signed three defenders in Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld and Kevin Wimmer this summer, but with Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor both expected to leave, Harry Kane is at risk of becoming their sole senior striker.
“We have our target, I think in the next few days maybe something (will) happen,” said Pochettino. “No worries about that and the people won’t worry about the team because we have a lot of good players that can play like a striker. We need to be (more) solid than last season because we scored a lot of goals but the problem was we conceded a lot of goals. If we are more solid maybe we can reduce the gap with the top four.”
Pochettino continues to be linked with transfers for Stuttgart’s Timo Werner, QPR forward Charlie Austin and West Brom’s Saido Berahino.
The latter would likely cost around £20m (28m) and represent a transfer policy Spurs have avoided since their disappointing summer in 2013, when the windfall they received from the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid was largely squandered.
Sporting director Franco Baldini’s reputation has suffered but while Pochettino dismissed reports the Italian is to leave the club, he also said Spurs’ ability to develop talents like Kane prevents them from needing to spend as they did in 2013, as their rivals – including Liverpool, who paid £32.5m (40m) for Christian Benteke – continue to do.
“Maybe Liverpool tried to find their Harry Kane but we have Harry Kane,” he said. “The people is very happy that our striker is Harry Kane. If you want to find players to compete with or improve Harry Kane it’s not easy.”
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