By Manchester correspondent Tony Stevens
Manchester United still expect David de Gea to join Real Madrid this summer despite Louis van Gaal telling him to prepare for the new Premier League season, Football Insider sources understand.
United have taken a tough stance on the unsettled goalkeeper and want him to keep his focus on his current club.
De Gea is in Louis van Gaal’s squad as they continue their pre-season tour of the United States although a back problem kept him out of the team’s first two games despite nothing of note showing up on a scan.
Sources have told Football Insider that United privately do not expect De Gea to be at Old Trafford beyond the summer window even if they are unsuccessful in prising Sergio Ramos from the Bernabeu.
De Gea had hoped to be a Real player by now but with United refusing to consider a cash deal and Madrid continuing to show no interest in a straight swap for defender Ramos, it remains highly possible the United No 1 will still be at the club for their Premier League curtainraiser against Tottenham on 8 August.
With the two superpowers refusing to budge, stalemate has ensued but United accept it is a battle that they are unlikely to win.
De Gea has agreed personal terms with Real and, although the two clubs have not agreed a fee, he has his heart set on a return to Spain with one year remaining on his United contract.
The goalkeeper told United at the end of last season that he would not sign the £220,000-a-week contract offered by the club and that he wanted to join Real.
With the situation still unresolved, Van Gaal is keen for De Gea to be involved in Saturday’s friendly against Barcelona, which is United’s penultimate match before the Premier League season begins on 8 August.
The fixture against the reigning Champions League holders is regarded by the Dutchman as key preparation for the forthcoming domestic campaign and he wants De Gea to have some serious action under his belt.
Van Gaal said: “I have good hope he can play against Barcelona. He was injured (earlier in the week) so I said ‘Go stand in the goal so we have a point of direction for my attackers, but don’t do anything to risk your injury’.
“That is because we have to build him up. I think he can play against Barcelona and I hope he can play.”