Man United face Real prospect of losing de Gea
MANCHESTER United goalkeeper David de Gea's future is up in the air, after manager Louis van Gaal acknowledged the threat of Real Madrid's reported interest in signing him.
De Gea was forced off by a hamstring injury during United's 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal on Sunday and, with Real Madrid thought to be preparing to pounce, it may have been his final appearance for the club.
While van Gaal professed not to know if Real have made a formal offer for de Gea, who began his career with their cross-town rivals Atletico, he accepts that his club face a struggle to prevent the 24-year-old from falling into their clutches.
Asked if he had accepted that de Gea was heading for the exit, van Gaal responded: "You are asking things I cannot answer, because I don't know.
"I have said a transfer is an individual thing. It's also a process. He has to decide. We have given a fantastic contract (offer) because we want him to stay.
"But I analyse his position and then I say he is Spanish, he is a Spanish international - still behind (Iker) Casillas - and now a Spanish club is coming.
"His girlfriend is Spanish, his father and mother come every week or two weeks here to watch, and still it is difficult for him. It's a big compliment for Manchester United."
British press reports suggest United have already drawn up a shortlist of potential replacements for de Gea, with Tottenham Hotspur's Hugo Lloris and Chelsea's Petr Cech among the players who have been cited.
Arsenal can secure third place in the Premier League table, and with it a Champions League group-stage berth, by avoiding defeat at home to Sunderland tomorrow in their game in hand.
Van Gaal conceded that he would rather avoid the inconvenience of entering the Champions League in the play-off round in mid-August, predicting a pair of "stressful games".
Reflecting on the prospect of avoiding the Champions League play-offs, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "It takes the pressure off during the holiday period and in the preparation.
"You have always that in mind when you prepare, so it will be great when we do it, but it is still to do.
"We have two home games. Let's focus on the next one. We can secure that on Wednesday night against Sunderland."