Santa Clara (United States) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho has given a “guarantee” that David De Gea will stay at Manchester United this season, despite the long-running saga over a potential move to Real Madrid.
Transfer speculation over De Gea returning to hometown club Real has stretched on for the last two years, ever since the goalkeeper was a whisker away from heading to the Bernabeu in the summer of 2015.
But ahead of United’s International Champions Cup pre-season encounter against Real, on Sunday, Mourinho has delivered an unequivocal message about the 26-year-old’s future.
Mourinho implied that there were negotiations with Real which fell through last summer, yet he believes the prospect of returning to La Liga has now become less appealing for the Spanish international.
“I can guarantee that he’s not going this season. My feeling is that it will be very difficult for him to go,” said Mourinho.
“He’s a very honest boy, very straight. He was contacted for a long time. The club was closed [for negotiations].
“Then we opened [it] because I always have this feeling that when a player has the desire to go, I don’t like to stop them. In the end, you don’t get from them what you expect.
“So we opened it and then they decided to close.
“I don’t think the feeling from him [towards Real] is very good. I see him really happy, focused and working better than ever. For me, 100 per cent he stays with us.”
Prior to the £75million ($97.4 million) signing of Romelu Lukaku, United had been keen to do business with Real after pursuing now Chelsea frontman Alvaro Morata.
– Bale no-go –
But Mourinho has confirmed that Real’s ex-Tottenham winger Gareth Bale was never a realistic target.
He said: “You have contacts, you have feelings, you understand things. It was clear that Bale likes Madrid, likes the situation and is in a club with a very good situation now.
“I never felt the desire for him to leave so why use time and energy on that?”
Mourinho still hopes to add a further two players to his squad before the end of the summer transfer window, despite describing the market as “very difficult.”
But while Mourinho is content with the make-up of his current options, he faces going into the new season without the injured trio of Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo.
The three have been recuperating with United’s squad in California, yet Shaw is ruled out until September, Young until October and Rojo until December.
“No chance [that any are fit] for the beginning of the Premier League,” said Mourinho.
“But it’s good to have them, good for them to be with us and recover with the group.”
Their absence does open the door for the young hopefuls at United. The likes of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Andreas Pereira and Axel Tuanzebe are all due to feature against Real, in Santa Clara, with Mourinho keen to rest several key figures after Thursday’s win over Manchester City.
“I’m going to play other players and give rest for some,” added Mourinho.
“[For] Tim Fosu Mensah and Andreas Pereira, it’s going to be a great experience for them.”