Louis van Gaal has denied fresh reports David De Gea could quit Manchester United if the club fails to secure a place in the Champions League next season.
The Red Devils will hope to close the four-point gap on fourth-placed Manchester City this weekend when United host relegation-certainties Aston Villa and City travel to Chelsea.
Van Gaal has already gone on record to state that he expects all of United’s top stars to stay – even in the event of the club missing out on a return to the Champions League next season.
Certainly few could afford to acquire United’s top talent, but missing out on the Champions League would likely kick-start Real Madrid’s interest in De Gea.
Madrid were willing to part with £29million and Keylor Navas to sign the goalkeeper last summer, but the relevant paperwork was not completed before the 11pm deadline.
De Gea subsequently signed a new four-year deal at United – a development that appears to have made Van Gaal forget the fact his star player was ready to quit the club.
When questioned about fresh reports suggesting De Gea could look to leave, Van Gaal questioned the motives of the press and demanded an apology for stories about De Gea’s future.
“You have said that he is going to Real Madrid,” Van Gaal said. “I have said always that he stays. You remember that?
“And now you are asking how long he has to stay? Come on. First you have to say: ‘Okay, sorry that I have written that. Sorry.’
“Ask him, ask him. Maybe he said something about that. But not to me.”
Put to Van Gaal that the goalkeeper nearly joined Real Madrid, he retorted: “Oh yeah? You think so. Okay.
“You have all the evidence of that? You have spoken with Mr Perez and Mr Woodward about that matter?”
They were strange comments from Van Gaal given United made a statement at the time outlining why De Gea’s move collapsed in response to Madrid issuing their own.
For now, though, the 25-year-old remains a key figure at United, with his fine display at Upton Park helping the side progress to the FA Cup semi-finals.