Unsettled David De Gea axed for Manchester United's Spurs test
Louis van Gaal claims Real Madrid's refusal to offer a realistic fee for David de Gea has left Manchester United with a goalkeeping crisis after insisting that the Spaniard is too distracted to play in today's Premier League opener against Tottenham.
Van Gaal is expected to hand Sam Johnstone, 22, a senior debut in place of De Gea as Sergio Romero has had limited training since arriving on a free transfer from Sampdoria two weeks ago.
Johnstone, who played in each of the four pre-season games on the tour of the United States, had been due to rejoin Preston North End on loan but they have now signed Sunderland youngster Jordan Pickford after Van Gaal refused to sanction Johnstone's return to the club he represented last season.
Even though De Gea impressed during United's tour victory against Barcelona on July 25, the 24-year-old made several errors against Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago four days later.
However, with Real having failed to go close to United's £35m valuation of - they offered less than £20m - or accept United's offer of a swap deal involving defender Sergio Ramos, Van Gaal claims they have unsettled his goalkeeper by attempting to sign him on the cheap.
"Manchester United have to pay for all the players at a certain amount," Van Gaal said.
"And what has Madrid offered? Then you are saying in a suggestive way that we have to be proactive, but we are asking money and they have to pay money.
"In the last few years, Manchester United has paid a lot and we haven't received a lot of money, so no (we will not sell for an unsatisfactory fee)."
United have lined up Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen as a replacement for De Gea should Real return with an acceptable bid.
Van Gaal insists he wants to keep De Gea, despite an acceptance within the club that the goalkeeper will leave on a free transfer for Real when his contract expires next summer if a deal cannot be agreed this month.
But Van Gaal believes he cannot afford to risk selecting him against Spurs because of concerns over his focus.
"I don't have any concerns (about De Gea against Spurs) because he shall not play," Van Gaal said. "He won't start the game.
"A human being is more than only a player, and he cannot manage it. A player cannot manage this situation.
"We have observed and seen in training, and matches, and he is not the De Gea of last year. He does his upmost best, but it is a difficult situation.
"Now we have to play our first match, and this is the most important match, so I want players who can only focus on the match."
With De Gea ruled out, Van Gaal is understood to be favouring Johnstone as his replacement following his performances on tour.
The Preston-born 'keeper's only previous first-team experience came on loan at Scunthorpe, Walsall, Yeovil, Doncaster and at his home-town club, with whom he won promotion to the Championship via the play-offs last season.
Romero, who played in Argentina's Copa America campaign, made just 11 appearances for Sampdoria last season and has not played a club game since facing Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia in January.
But Van Gaal admits that uncertainty over De Gea's situation could run until the end of the transfer window on September 1.
"He is the best goalkeeper we have had the last three years. Two years he was nominated by the fans as the best player at the club," Van Gaal said.
"Do you think the coach wants him to leave? I'm fighting against the transfer period. I know what the process is like. But I don't know the solution. I cannot lead this process, I can only watch and observe.
"I think when it is September 1, there is a decision made because the transfer period is over. Then you have to manage the new situation, which is easier.
"But I am the victim, the fellow players are the victim, the club is the victim and that is why the transfer period needs to change."
Bastian Schweinsteiger is likely to miss today's game owing to a lack of match fitness, having arrived from Bayern Munich at the end of his summer holiday.
With Angel Di Maria sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £44.3m, Van Gaal admits United have been left without a player of similar creative quality, though the club are close to agreeing a deal with Barcelona for Pedro Rodriguez.
"When I say I want more attackers with speed and creativity, Di Maria is one of those players," Van Gaal said. "So, we have to look for that player. He could not be persuaded (to stay)."
Ashley Young has signed a new contract that keeps him at the club until June 2018. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, meanwhile, has not been given a squad number.
Memphis Depay, as expected, takes the No 7 shirt vacated by Di Maria.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)
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