Louis Van Gaal: David De Gea is just a shadow of his former self
Manchester United boss wields his axe, admitting Real's pursuit has affected keeper
Louis van Gaal claims David de Gea bears little resemblance to the goalkeeper who rescued so many points for Manchester United last season.
United begin their Premier League campaign at home to Tottenham today but De Gea has been left out of the squad because he has been unsettled by talk of a move to Real Madrid, according to Van Gaal.
The United manager said on the eve of the first game of the season that he felt De Gea was incapable of focusing on the match in hand, which means 22-year-old Sam Johnstone looks set to make his debut against Tottenham at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal admitted United have "problems" with De Gea, who has been unable to "manage his situation," according to the Dutchman.
The United boss claims starting the 24-year-old against Spurs would be too much of a risk, so he looks set to turn to Johnstone - or new signing Sergio Romero - instead.
"We've observed him in training sessions and matches and he's not the David de Gea of last year," Van Gaal said.
"He tries and does (his) utmost best, but it's a difficult situation.
"Now we have to play our first match and I want players who can focus only on the match and he is not capable of doing that. He shall not play."
United have maintained all summer that they will not sell De Gea to Real Madrid unless they get Sergio Ramos in return.
That stance remains the same, despite Van Gaal's latest terse words on the subject.
"No, I don't think so," Van Gaal said when asked if Real Madrid had matched their valuation of De Gea.
"We are asking money and they have to pay money. In recent years Manchester United have paid a lot of money on players and not received a lot for our players.
"He's the best goalkeeper we've had for the last three years, I believe. The last two years he was nominated by the fans as the best player at the club. Do you think the coach wants him to leave? I don't think so. The player still has to manage this situation."
It is easy to see why United are so desperate to hold on to De Gea.
The former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper played a huge part in United's push for Champions League qualification and rightly earned his second successive player of the year award at the club's annual awards in May.
Van Gaal thinks the situation would not be so messy if the transfer window shut before the start of the season.
He added: "I am the victim, the fellow players are the victims, the club is the victim. That's why the transfer period has to change.
"When we are at September 1 there is a decision because then the transfer period is over."
Van Gaal also spoke for the first time about Angel di Maria's exit from Old Trafford.
Di Maria joined Paris St Germain for £44.3million on Thursday, less than 12 months after signing for United for an English-record £59.7million fee.
"That's a big loss,'' Van Gaal said. "I want more attackers with speed and creativity. Di Maria is one of those so we have to look for that kind of player."
Explaining the events of the last few weeks when Di Maria failed to show up for United's pre-season tour and then signed for PSG, Van Gaal said: "He left us very quickly (at the end of last season) because he had to go to the Copa America so I didn't want to disturb him on his way to the final.
"I text him and then we had to consider if it (a transfer) is possible. When you don't come on the tour on the day we agreed then you are showing you want to go to Paris St Germain."
Manchester United must get past Club Brugge to reach the group stages of the Champions League.
United drew the Belgian side in the play-off round, with the first leg taking place at Old Trafford on August 18 or 19. The second leg will be played on August 25 or 26.
Celtic have been drawn against Malmo.
Southampton will face Danish champions FC Midtjylland in the final play-off round of the Europa League.