Mourinho aims to keep de Gea, set to re-sign Keane

The 26-year-old David de Gea has been linked to a move to Real Madrid.
The 26-year-old David de Gea has been linked to a move to Real Madrid.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Jose Mourinho has made it clear that he is determined to hold on to David de Gea in the close season, despite leaving the Spain goalkeeper out of his squad for Wednesday's Premier League draw with Southampton amid reported interest from Real Madrid.

The 26-year-old has been heavily linked with a move back to the Spanish capital, where he came through the ranks at Atletico Madrid and into the first team before moving to Old Trafford in 2011.

"David is top in the world and obviously we want to keep the top in the world," said the United manager.

On Wednesday it was also reported that Michael Keane is set to become Mourinho's first summer signing as United moved closer to recapturing their former centre-back from Burnley.

United and Burnley are said by sources to be "very close" to agreeing on a deal of about £25 million (S$45.3 million) for the 24-year-old - beating Everton in the race to sign the defender.

Keane's signing would put the future of Chris Smalling in doubt, particularly if United reignite their interest in Victor Lindelof, the Benfica centre-back.

Despite Smalling's assertion that he has a "very good relationship" with Mourinho, it is understood that the United manager has been unhappy with some of the defender's performances and commitment since he replaced Louis van Gaal last summer.

Smalling has started only 12 Premier League games because of foot and knee injuries this season, but Mourinho has questioned the 27-year-old's dedication to the club, suggesting that he should play through the pain barrier.

The former Fulham defender could be behind Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and now Keane in the pecking order.

Mourinho has also been impressed by Daley Blind's performances at centre-back and will welcome back Marcos Rojo into the fold in the new year once he has recovered from a cruciate knee-ligament injury.

United have been keeping a close eye on Keane since they sold him to Burnley for a fee of about £2 million in September 2014.

Keane came through the United academy with his twin brother, Will, who is now at Hull, and made five first-team appearances before being deemed surplus to requirements by van Gaal in the Dutchman's first season.

United insisted on including a 25 per cent sell-on clause, which means that they will have to pay far less than other interested parties.

There is an element of embarrassment for United given that they are about to pay so much money for a player they let go on the cheap, but club sources maintain that Keane's career path would have been hindered by his lack of playing time under van Gaal.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Mourinho aims to keep de Gea, set to re-sign Keane'. Print Edition | Subscribe