Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho does not expect any underhand tactics from his “friends” at Real Madrid amid growing talk of a summer move for David De Gea.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper has won the club’s Player of the Year award for the past three seasons and is contracted to the Old Trafford giants until at least 2019.
De Gea penned that deal in September 2015 after a much-mooted move to Madrid collapsed in acrimonious circumstances, with talk now building over a renewed bid for the Spain goalkeeper.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez this week said “someone is messing around” when quizzed about the current speculation and Mourinho does not expect those at the club he managed for three years to resort to skulduggery.
“With Mr Perez and his right arm Jose Angel Sanchez, they are some of the people in football that I can say that I didn’t work for them and it is over,” the United boss, in charge at the Bernabeu until 2013, said.
“I can say that we are friends forever, big friends. I like them a lot, they like me a lot. We are friends and friends speak – not every day because they have their life and I have my life.
“But friends speak, friends are open, friends don’t hide things, friends are honest.
“So if at the end of the season I want one of their players or they want one of my players, it is not through the press that we are going to change messages or are going to send noises.
“We will be very, very, very direct, so it is one of the clubs that I am not worried (about) at all because we are friends.
“And if something has to happen, it will happen between us and not with you, so it’s the kind of club I am really cool with.”
Asked if he was confident that De Gea, who says he is “very happy” and focused at United, would remain at Old Trafford, Mourinho said: “I have nothing to say, really, because, as I was saying, I am not going to speak about hypothetical things.
“The only thing that is real is that he is my player, I am happy with him.
“I know that he is happy with me and there is nothing else. Absolutely nothing else.”
Speculation over De Gea’s future will roll on for months to come, as will that about Antoine Griezmann’s potential acquisition from Atletico Madrid.
Willian, Victor Lindelof and Tiemoue Bakayoko are others reportedly of interest to Mourinho, who has confirmed targets are in mind for the summer.
“I know the players I want,” he said, having earlier admitted up to four new faces could arrive at Old Trafford.
“Of course, the start of everything is the qualities of the players you want but then, sooner or later, it has to end in the players you want.
“And as I was saying, I try always to be objective, I try always not to participate in the summer histories of trying to bring players that everybody knows is impossible.
“I am not going to tell Mr Woodward and Mr Glazers ‘bring me Messi’ – don’t spend the time until 31st August, so I am always objective.
“The sooner the better and I know exactly what I want. I know what I want is possible, so let’s see if we can do that.”
Mourinho’s focus now, though, is Saturday’s match against Watford and avenging September’s 3-1 defeat at Vicarage Road.
Marcus Rashford scored the consolation that day but has struggled to match the goalscoring form shown when bursting onto the scene.
“He is not anymore the surprise kid,” Mourinho said. “He is a player that everybody respects, that everybody knows and everybody knows the qualities.
“It is normal he is in this period of transition where he is still a kid but not anymore the new kid in town.
“I think next season will be very, very good for Marcus because this season is giving him experience at this level of responsibility, at this level of being a professional player at a club like Manchester United.
“So I am really happy with Marcus, that’s why every match since the start of the season he is there, on the bench or in the line-up, or coming last 30, the last 20 or the last 10.
“He said something the other day that made me really happy, which is he says he is learning so much, even in the tactical meetings and training sessions, so I think his future will be brilliant.
“His present is good and we need him.”