Louis van Gaal has never been one to shy away from making contentious decisions, but the Manchester United boss’ staunch refusal to select David de Gea ranks alongside the strangest.
The Mail on Sunday reports the Spaniard is back training with the first-team, but summer signing Sergio Romero will continue between the sticks for the foreseeable.
De Gea is yet to make the subs bench for Man Utd’s opening Premier League fixtures, where the pair of 1-0 victories they recorded from as many matches has seen their odds to win the title shrivel slightly into 9/2.
With the Argentine keeping successive clean sheets in these games, despite key defensive absences, Romero is difficult to drop, but there are few goalkeepers on the planet who can claim to be of a similar level to the outcast 24-year-old.
It is for this reason why he’s so badly wanted by Real Madrid, with whom De Gea has been consistently linked throughout the year.
United are willing to sell the Spanish international, according to reports, but only for a sum that would outstrip the current world record fetched for a goalkeeper, which currently stands at £32m.
But De Gea only has a year remaining on his contract, prompting Real hesitancy with regards to forking out such an amount, with Los Blancos safe in the knowledge they’ll get the player whatever happens, but stand to save a fortune if they hang on a year.
Since returning for pre-season, Van Gaal has bemoaned a change in the player’s attitude: “We’ve observed him in training and matches and he’s not the David de Gea of last year,” he said.
This seems sufficient cause for United to compromise their valuation, but if they’re unprepared to do so, fielding him at every possible opportunity is their only real option.
If he’s going to spend the season watching Romero mind the net, there is no obvious incentive to turn down Real’s cash to sign him now.
United have clearly demonstrated they can cope without him in these first fixtures of the season and if the opportunity to sell still presents itself, it’s one they must capitalise on and use the generated funds to strengthen other areas of the team.