Louis van Gaal piles pressure on David de Gea: He must choose Man United or Real Madrid
David de Gea may have played his final game for Manchester United after Louis van Gaal admitted that the club could do no more to persuade the Spain goalkeeper to reject Real Madrid and stay at Old Trafford.
De Gea, whose contract expires in June 2016, limped out of yesterday's draw against Arsenal - a result which leaves United almost certain to finish fourth in the Premier League - with a hamstring injury that leaves him a major doubt for the final game of the season against Hull City at the KC Stadium next Sunday.
The Spaniard (24) has so far resisted United's attempts to secure him to a new £200,000-a-week deal at Old Trafford.
And, with the Madrid-born De Gea's pop star girlfriend Edurne Garcia Almagro continuing to be based in the Spanish capital, Van Gaal admitted that only the player himself could now decide where his future lies.
"A transfer is a process, involving a player, a club and his present club," United's manager said. "He has to choose.
"It's not easy to choose between two great clubs. He is Spanish and his girlfriend is Spanish, now a Spanish club is coming, his father and mother come every week or every two weeks here, so it is difficult. But we would be very happy if he stays."
When asked whether he believed there was any prospect of De Gea staying at United, however, Van Gaal insisted that the situation remained unclear.
"You never know," the Dutch-man said. "You are asking things I cannot answer because I don't know.
"He has to decide because we have offered a fantastic contract because we want him to stay. He has had a fantastic season.
"I don't think I can persuade him because he knows everything that he has in Manchester United. I don't have to say something for the benefit of Manchester United because he can feel it every day.
"You have seen the fans - unbelievable. When he is going, he is losing that. Here he has a lot of credits, so he has to decide."
Van Gaal admitted last Friday that United had already drawn up a shortlist of potential replacements for De Gea, with Chelsea's Petr Cech and Tottenham Hotspur's Hugo Lloris both figuring prominently.
Victor Valdes, the former Barcelona goalkeeper who made his United debut when replacing the injured De Gea against Arsenal, is another contender to become the club's first choice in the event of one being required.
Van Gaal, however, claimed he was unaware as to whether Real had yet lodged a formal bid for De Gea, who arrived at United in an £18.3m transfer from Atletico Madrid in July 2011.
"I don't know," the United manager said. "I am not involved in that kind of thing."
On-loan striker Radamel Falcao also appeared to have made his last appearance at Old Trafford, with the Colombian waving to the crowd when replaced by Robin van Persie just after the hour mark.
"You know how the situation is of Falcao," Van Gaal said. "At the end of the season, we will decide."
Memphis Depay is expected to undergo his medical in Manchester today ahead of his proposed move from PSV.
United's failure to hold onto the first-half lead earned by Ander Herrera's volleyed goal left Arsenal in pole position to secure the third and final automatic Champions League qualification spot.
Two points from their final two league games - at home against Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion - will confirm third position, with Arsene Wenger admitting that it would be a relief to avoid a Champions League play-off in mid-August.
"It takes the pressure off during the holidays and during the preparation," Wenger said.
"We have always that in mind when you prepare and it will be great when we do it (secure third) but it is still to do. We have two home games, so let us focus on the next one.
"If you had asked me in October if I would happy to finish third, I would have said yes. We want to finish first, obviously, but overall, I would have said yes.
"There are 17 teams who exchange a position with us, but it is a continuity in our results and a platform to do better next season.
"We feel we have made progress this season because we have been stronger against the big teams. That is a platform to be better."
United's draw ensured they end the campaign having remained unbeaten at home against the current top six, but Van Gaal admitted that his team must improve against the lesser lights next season.
"When you see the results we've had against the other top-six sides, they are not so bad," the United manager said.
"It's against the little clubs, who fight, defend and park the bus that we have to be cleverer. That is what has made the difference for Chelsea this season."