Van Gaal insists in-demand David de Gea is part of Manchester United's plans for new season
Louis van Gaal expects David de Gea to return to action for Manchester United and focus on preparations for the new season by facing Barcelona in San Francisco tomorrow.
De Gea, who remains a priority target for Real Madrid, has been unavailable for the first two games of United's pre-season tour of the United States with what Van Gaal (above) has described as a "minor" injury.
But with United due to step up the intensity of their warm-up programme by taking on the European champions at the Levi's Stadium, the home of NFL side San Francisco 49ers, Van Gaal has told De Gea that he wants the goalkeeper to start the game, with the Premier League opener against Tottenham at Old Trafford just two weeks away.
De Gea is understood to have complained of a back strain prior to United's 3-1 victory against San Jose Earthquakes in California on Tuesday, prompting the United manager to send the 24-year-old for tests at a nearby hospital.
The Spain goalkeeper was given the all-clear by medical staff, but Van Gaal erred on the side of caution for the friendly against the MLS outfit by leaving De Gea out of the squad.
Van Gaal was confident enough in De Gea's fitness, however, to send him out to participate in the pre-match warm-up and the United manager now believes that he is fit enough to play tomorrow.
Few inside Old Trafford expect De Gea to remain at the club this summer, with Van Gaal having identified Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and Sergio Romero, of Sampdoria, as potential replacements. Real have yet to make a formal bid for De Gea, however, and he has stopped short of attempting to force a move by submitting a transfer request.
Rafael Benitez, the Real manager, refused to rule out a bid for De Gea before the September 1 transfer deadline, however, when asked about him in Melbourne prior to today's friendly against Manchester City at the MCG. "De Gea is not our player so there is nothing to say about him," he said. "But the market is still open and we will continue to do our job."
While United are prepared to lose De Gea this summer in the event of Real agreeing to trade defender Sergio Ramos, there is also an acceptance that attentions must now turn to the new season and the possibility that De Gea will continue to be at the club beyond the transfer deadline. As a result, he is determined to see De Gea in action tomorrow and against Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago on Wednesday.
Having given his players 45-minute run-outs against Club America and San Jose, Van Gaal said he will select his strongest team to play for an hour against Luis Enrique's team.
"I will play for longer with a line-up," Van Gaal said. "I have to select which players are going to play 60 minutes, so it is the first selection."
Meanwhile, United's attempts to sign Ramos in exchange for De Gea appear to have been dismissed, with Benitez insisting that the player will remain at the Bernabeu.
United lodged a £28m bid for the centre-half and made it clear that De Gea will not be sold unless Ramos is allowed to join them.
But Benitez said: "Sergio Ramos is a key player for us. He will be crucial for us during the season. It's clear for me and for the club that Sergio will be here. Football is a curious world, but Sergio Ramos will stay with us."
Karim Benzema is certain to remain at Real Madrid at the end of the transfer window, according to his agent. The France international forward has been linked with a move away from the Bernabeu this summer, with Arsenal reportedly interested in a £40m deal for the 27-year-old.
The player's agent, Karim Djaziri, said: "Karim is very happy at Real Madrid and he will be a Real Madrid player by the end of this transfer window, 1,000pc."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)