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• Agent Jorge Mendes holds talks with Louis van Gaal at Carrington
• Goalkeeper could sign deal worth £200,000 a week
David de Gea could be on the verge of an amazing about-turn after his agent, Jorge Mendes, arrived at Manchester United’s training ground reportedly to begin talks on a new deal for the goalkeeper.
With Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, absent on business in London, Mendes met the manager, Louis van Gaal, and the United secretary, John Alexander, at Carrington to try and reach agreement on the goalkeeper’s future.
Should De Gea, who took over from Iker Casillas in Spain’s goal in midweek, agree to stay at United it would represent a massive fillip for Van Gaal after a summer of scattergun transfer dealings and a week in which there were suggestions that the manager had been confronted by senior players unhappy about the team’s rigid style of play.
It would also represent a remarkable change of heart by De Gea after relations between club and goalkeeper appeared to have broken down during an acrimonious summer in which his head was apparently turned by persistent interest from Real Madrid.
United had already put a new contract on the table last season, believed to be offering the goalkeeper £200,000 a week over a five-year period, but the likelihood of that being signed receded after Van Gaal accused him of not wanting to play for the club in the light of Real’s overtures.
That rift between goalkeeper and manager widened when De Gea professed himself “baffled” at the comments, and after his proposed £29m move to Real collapsed embarrassingly on transfer deadline day, it had been assumed that the Spaniard would wait until his contract ran down next summer before moving home.
However, with Spain looking ahead to next year’s European Championship and Argentina’s Sergio Romero holding down the goalkeeping spot in a United side about to return to the Champions League, De Gea’s mind appears to be refocused on considering his future with the club.
That may have been helped by Real signalling that they have distanced themselves from the player after Florentino Perez ruled out any approach during the January transfer window. “We have not told him not to sign,” the president said. “He has to do what is best for his career. It’s very difficult that he does nothing for a year. When people say, ‘Wait for a year and then he comes free’, that has never happened with any big player.”
The possibility of a rapprochement could put De Gea in line for Saturday’s tomorrow’s match against Liverpool with his potential opposite number Simon Mignolet saying he had no doubts De Gea could handle the pressure if selected.
“It is always difficult to tell what is going on looking from the outside. The only thing I know is he is a very good goalkeeper who has proved himself to be very important for Manchester United over time. I think he has all the abilities to play again,” Mignolet said.
If so, it appears he could be stepping into a troubled side. Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick, the United captain and vice-captain, are reported to have aired concerns to the manager about uninspiring training routines and a lack of freedom of expression on the pitch.
Those concerns have come in the wake of United’s unconvincing start to the season. They currently lie fifth in the table, five points behind the leaders Manchester City, and were defeated by Swansea before the international break.
While Romero was considered to be at fault for that defeat, more worrying has been their shortage of goals. United have attempted to solve that particular issue by signing the unproven 19-year-old France striker Anthony Martial from Monaco for an initial fee of £36m.
One player De Gea is unlikely to have to worry about is Víctor Valdés, nominally United’s No2 but who has been frozen out by Van Gaal after he refused to play in a reserve-team match last season.
Casillas, his fellow Spaniard, has offered his sympathy, saying: “I want to send all my support and a lot of encouragement to Víctor. That is proof that at times football is very ungrateful. He deserves to find a solution soon because of the type of player he is.”