Belfast Telegraph

Van Gaal confident over De Gea

Louis van Gaal is confident David de Gea will resist Real Madrid's overtures and sign a new contract with Manchester United.

Van Gaal completed his seventh signing of the season on Thursday when Victor Valdes put pen to paper on an initial 18-month deal.

The arrival of the highly-decorated former Barcelona goalkeeper prompted speculation regarding the future of De Gea, whose contract expires at the end of next season.

Real Madrid are reported to have identified De Gea as the man they want to replace Iker Casillas as their first-choice goalkeeper.

Senior sources at United are understood to be "relaxed" about De Gea's situation and Van Gaal himself appears to have little doubt his no.1 will stay at the club.

"I think so, yes," Van Gaal said when asked whether De Gea's long-term future was at United.

"I think there is no problem for him to sign.

"When you are a (regular) player, then probably you are the best, and then the manager is very happy that a player that is fixed in the line-up will stay."

Having won six La Liga titles and three Champions Leagues with Barcelona, Valdes, like Van Gaal, is well-accustomed to success.

The Dutchman therefore expects his new arrival to battle hard for a place in the first team.

''Nobody is happy to be number two and he has to have ambition to beat David De Gea - but it shall be very hard for him,'' Van Gaal said.

"David de Gea has developed himself in the six months that I've been here very much. I'm very pleased with his development.

Valdes left Barcelona last summer following a long association that stretched back to when he was just 10.

The goalkeeper has been training with United since October in a bid to help him recover from a serious knee injury he suffered in March.

Van Gaal, who handed Valdes his Barca debut 13 years ago, is satisfied the player has fully recovered from his injury.

''When we invite Victor Valdes to have his rehabilitation here in Manchester United you do that for him and also for yourself,'' Van Gaal said.

''You have the chance to see his rehabilitation but also if his quality is still the same and he has confirmed both.''

The signing of Valdes, who was linked with Liverpool, is a clear indication that Van Gaal is ready to snap up any of his targets if they become available this month.

"We were very quick to buy Victor Valdes. Did you notice (that)?'' the former Bayern Munich coach said.

''When we can, we deal quickly.''

De Gea has played a big part in the 10-match unbeaten run that has propelled United into third position in the Barclays Premier League.

Despite the recent upturn in form, Van Gaal is still not completely happy with his team and has far bigger aims than just qualifying for the Champions League.

''My ambition is that I have the best players who can collaborate with each other to form the best team in the world,'' the United manager said.

Van Gaal's ability to get United back into the Champions League will be helped hugely if the injury situation at Old Trafford remains as it is.

The Dutchman is without just one player - Ashley Young - for the visit of Southampton on Sunday.

That means Daley Blind is in line to make his return from a two-month knee injury layoff and Luke Shaw will also be available to face his old club.

Shaw has only made 10 appearances for United since his £28million move from Saints due to two ankle injuries and a hamstring problem.

When asked whether he was worried about Shaw's injury problems, Van Gaal said: "Yes. You are right because I have put to him the same question.

The Dutchman then moved to allay fears that Shaw was likely to be injury-prone for the rest of his career.

"No," he said when asked if he feared repeated the teenager would suffer a pattern of injuries throughout his playing days.

"It is dependable of the manager, if the manager still has trust in the player - it is always like that.

When reminded about his criticism of Shaw's fitness during the pre-season tour of the United States, Van Gaal added: "It was a long time ago. That was the beginning of our relationship and collaboration. That has passed."

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