Lure of Spain may be too hard for David De Gea to resist: Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal, the Manchester United manager, gave the most graphic sense yet of the task they face in keeping David de Gea from Real Madrid's clutches last night, admitting Spain is already a major part of the goalkeeper's private life.
United have grown increasingly optimistic in recent weeks that their offer of a £200,000-a-week contract would be enough to persuade the 24-year-old to stay. But Van Gaal detailed how De Gea's girlfriend and parents are both a part of the lure of Spain and said there was nothing more he could do to press the merits of Old Trafford on the player.
"I analyse his position and then I say he is Spanish, he is a Spanish international, still behind [Iker] Casillas, now a Spanish club is coming [for him], his girlfriend is Spanish, his father and mother come every week or every two weeks here so it is difficult."
Van Gaal claimed not to know whether Real Madrid had tabled an offer for De Gea. His observations should not be taken as an expression of resignation to De Gea's departure - merely an example of the Dutchman presenting the full facts, as he is willing to do when at his candid best.
"A transfer is an individual thing," he added. "It is also a process. He has to decide because we have given a fantastic contract because we want him to stay. He has had a fantastic season, I think."
De Gea may have played his last football for United, with his departure from the pitch with a hamstring problem during the 1-1 draw against Arsenal effectively ending his season. "It shall be difficult to play but you never know," Van Gaal said of the Spaniard's prospects of playing at Hull City on Sunday. Victor Valdes received a strong welcome from United's supporters when he appeared in De Gea's place.
Asked what he could do to convince De Gea to stay, Van Gaal said: "I don't think I can persuade him because he knows everything what he has at that moment at Manchester United so I don't have to say something in 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. He has to decide."
Radamel Falcao may have decided - or accepted - that his own United career is over, judging by the wave he offered when he was substituted an hour into another anaemic display.
On the challenge of replacing De Gea, Van Gaal said: "Every player is difficult to replace. Every player has his contribution to the result."
Van Gaal said there would be a need to "wait and see how we decide" before he would discuss Valdes. "I cannot say anything about transfers or what I like to say to the players because first I shall talk with the players and at the end with the media and not upside down."
Wenger said that Arsenal avoiding that qualifying round of the Champions League would change the dimensions of the club's close season. "It takes the pressure off during the holidays and during the preparation," he said. "We have always that in mind when you prepare and it will be great when we do it but it is still to do. Let us focus on the next one."