Football: Schmeichel tells United to respect De Gea's wish to move to Real Madrid

Manchester United's David De Gea.
Manchester United's David De Gea.PHOTO: REUTERS
Former Manchester United No.1 Peter Schmeichel said United needs to respect David De Gea's wishes.
Former Manchester United No.1 Peter Schmeichel said United needs to respect David De Gea's wishes. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - English football giants Manchester United kicked off their world-record kit deal with adidas on Saturday, but the million-dollar question is whether goalkeeper David De Gea will get to wear the club's new jersey this season.

The Spaniard reportedly wants to return to his hometown to join Real Madrid as a replacement for Iker Casillas, who moved on to FC Porto in Portugal.

One of the summer's most high-profile transfer sagas took another twist on Thursday, when De Gea looked out-of-sorts and disinterested in a 0-2 friendly defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago.

It is rumoured that the Red Devils are willing to let his contract run out next year and lose him for free, rather than be forced into a deal with Real as they had done with David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo in the past.

Former United No.1 Peter Schmeichel, however, believes this will be a mistake that will harm both the club and the 24-year-old, who has scooped its Player of the Season honours for the past two years.

"David is an absolute star at United and I think he enjoys playing there - but, home is calling and we must respect that," the former Denmark international told The Straits Times on Saturday.

"Another top team wants him. We need to have the situation resolved so everyone can move on.

"How is he going to perform when his future is unsettled? The most important thing right now is the boy gets to know where he's playing so he can commit fully on the field."

Schmeichel is in Singapore to launch United's new home kit as part of a 10-year, £750 million (S$1.6 billion) partnership with German sports brand adidas.

The 51-year-old, who played for the Red Devils from 1991 to 1999 and is regarded as the club's greatest goalkeeper, was renowned for his top-drawer saves and animated behaviour during his time at Old Trafford.

Quizzed by fans at the Kallang Wave mall on who else he would like to see United sign in the transfer window, he replied without hesitation: "Zlatan Ibrahimovic. That guy has more confidence than me.

" We need a strong character like him, someone who can give us an edge in the title race."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg