LONDON • David de Gea's increasingly tenuous position at Manchester United was destabilised further on Thursday, after Louis van Gaal took the unexpected decision to go public with new details about the club's stand-off with the player behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman revealed that the Spanish goalkeeper had told the club that he did not want to be part of the squad which beat Tottenham 1-0 in their English Premier League opener last week.
De Gea was also not among the United squad that played Aston Villa late yesterday, as van Gaal is not convinced the player can be relied upon since he has been pining all summer for a move to Real Madrid.
The manager gave his normal pre-match press conference on Thursday and then stunned the room by wandering over and sitting next to a journalist in the audience who had earlier questioned him about de Gea.
Insisting his comments should be regarded as being on the record, van Gaal explained his decision to drop the player for the Spurs game.
"We've talked with him, he was fully agreed with our decision," he said. "We have a goalkeeping coach, Frans Hoek, he has a meeting with David and he asks him, 'Do you want to play?' "
When the reporter asked about de Gea's reply, van Gaal said it was 'no'. "Then I have to take the decision," he added.
"It is a process. We had been observing him in preparation, he was not so good, he was not the same David de Gea as before, he was my best player last season."
A United official later attempted to "clarify" what had been said by insisting van Gaal meant de Gea was merely "not eager to play" against Tottenham because of the speculation surrounding his future.
The Daily Mail also reported that the goalkeeper was "baffled" by the manager's claims, insisting that he had made it clear to Hoek that he wanted to play if selected, and was subsequently disappointed to be sat in the directors' box.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE -PRESSE