Manchester United insist David De Gea has not asked to leave amid Real Madrid interest

James Ducker
It has been reported in Spain that De Gea has already agreed personal terms with Real Madrid - Rex Features

Manchester United have insisted David De Gea has not asked to leave Old Trafford despite the club facing another battle of wills with Real Madrid over the Spain goalkeeper.

Real have identified De Gea as a leading transfer target this summer and are confident they can entice the Madrid-born goalkeeper two years after their bid to sign him collapsed in acrimony on transfer deadline day.

Marca, the Madrid-based sports newspaper and Real mouthpiece, claimed on Friday that De Gea had already agreed personal terms with the club and had informed United of his willingness to move to the Bernabéu this summer.

Senior sources both at Old Trafford and close to De Gea told The Telegraph that the goalkeeper had not asked to leave. But while United say De Gea is not for sale, Mourinho is understood to be exploring other goalkeeping options in the event his hand is forced.

Real would have to pay between £50 million and £60 million to stand any chance of signing De Gea, but if he was to leave, it seems inconceivable that Mourinho would not use the situation to strengthen his prospects of signing Real striker Álvaro Morata.

Who could replace David De Gea at Man Utd?

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic likely to be out for the rest of the year with cruciate knee ligament damage and uncertain to play for United again, Mourinho has admitted his transfer plans have been changed and wants another striker in addition to long-standing target Antoine Griezmann, of Atlético Madrid.

Although United are leading the chase for Burnley defender Michael Keane, Mourinho is also a keen admirer of France centre-half, Raphaël Varane, whom he managed at Real.

Gary Neville, the former United defender, believes De Gea would be hard to replace. “If United were to lose De Gea, it would be a big problem,” he said. “It would not be easy to replace him. He’s right at the top level now. United have got to sort that issue out.”

United will be without eight senior players for the visit of Swansea City to Old Trafford, which prompted Mourinho to joke that he may be forced to play himself at centre-half. But Mourinho believes the club’s gruelling schedule and mounting personnel problems could be a “blessing” in terms of toughening up the squad.

Alvaro Morata wants to leave Real Madrid Credit: GETTY IMAGES

United will be without Marouane Fellaini for the next three Premier League matches after his red card for headbutting Sergio Agüero in Thursday’s goalless draw away to Manchester City.

In an added blow, Timothy Fosu-Mensah will be out for the rest of the season after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder against City at a time when United are already without Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones because of injury.

Mourinho said Pogba will be fit for the first leg of United’s Europa League semi-final against Celta Vigo in Spain next Thursday after the midfielder missed the derby with a muscle problem and suggested Mata may be the next to return. He has also raised the prospect of using Wayne Rooney in midfield.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah will be ruled out for the season Credit: PA

But Mourinho believes the “extreme” circumstances are forcing players to toughen up after claiming the squad he inherited from Louis van Gaal lacked belief and resilience.

“Maybe it’s a blessing, an opportunity to make the team stronger, maybe it’s an opportunity to make them mentally stronger,” he said.

“The group was a nice group. Good people, good boys, committed people, so I think Van Gaal left here a good group of boys with very good relations between them, and that I got in my hands.

Mourinho has suggested the injuries could be a blessing Credit: Rex Features

“I think they missed happiness, they missed trust, they missed belief, they missed this extra bit that brings resilience, that brings you fight, and they have it [now] so the group, next July 9, when we meet again for next season, is a strong group.

“So the new players, when they will arrive, will find a group more ready to go for big things.

“I think the first one to come back is Mata, which will give us another option in attack, but in reality what we need now is one of the two centre-backs to be back.”

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