LONDON • David de Gea has completed a dramatic U-turn by agreeing a new four-year contract with Manchester United - 11 days after the Spaniard's proposed transfer to Real Madrid collapsed.
"I am delighted to be starting this new chapter in my United career," said the goalkeeper in a statement yesterday. "I'm looking forward to putting a difficult summer behind me and concentrating on working hard to improve and help my teammates to be successful."
The extraordinary development follows a revelation that United manager Louis van Gaal had been confronted by senior players - including captain Wayne Rooney and vice-captain Michael Carrick - about his regimented training methods. That van Gaal persuaded a previously disgruntled de Gea - United's player of the season for the last two years - to commit his future to the club is a coup for the manager.
Said the Dutchman: "He is one of the best goalkeepers in world football. I am very pleased that he will be part of the team for many years to come."
Details of the extension were not revealed. But it is understood that de Gea, who was on £35,000 (S$76,500) a week, will now earn £200,000, making him one of the club's top earners.
He is expected to be restored to the starting line-up against Liverpool today after missing the Red Devils' first six matches in all competitions this season.
Van Gaal had not considered him for selection after saying that he was "not eager to play" against Tottenham Hotspur on the opening day, a claim that de Gea disputed.
The rift between the duo widened when de Gea professed himself "baffled" at the comments and after his proposed £29 million move to Real collapsed embarrassingly on transfer deadline day.
It has been widely assumed that the Spaniard would wait until his contract runs down next summer before moving home. But with the European Championship taking place next year and Sergio Romero holding down the goalkeeping spot at United, de Gea is keen to regain the No. 1 shirt.
His renewed focus may also have been helped by Real distancing themselves from the 24-year-old after president Florentino Perez ruled out any approach during the January transfer window.
"He has to do what is best for his career," said Perez. "We're not contemplating what will happen next season but we have three great goalkeepers."
Despite bringing de Gea on board, it is understood that misgivings the players have over aspects of van Gaal's management go back to last season, when the manager came down hard on Luke Shaw.
The Dutchman publicly accused the England left-back of being out of shape when he joined the squad in pre-season after his £28 million move from Southampton last year.
Still 19 then, Shaw's team-mates saw that he was badly affected by the criticism and are believed to have encouraged van Gaal to adopt a different tactic.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN