Manchester United fans already nervous over the future of star goalkeeper David de Gea will be upset with reports from Spanish newspaper AS this morning, who believe his relationship with Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal has become strained over the last few months.
De Gea has been offered a bumper new contract by United believed to be worth in the region of €10 million-a-season, but all the time the Spanish stopper doesn't sign on the dotted line rumours of strong interest from Real Madrid have to be taken seriously.
The 24-year-old has been nothing short of outstanding this season, but Van Gaal has consistently snubbed the chance to praise him publicly and bizarre comments after last weekend's defeat to Swansea haven't helped matters.
Van Gaal could handle this better
Van Gaal doesn't feel the need to highlight De Gea's performances, which have definitely saved United from dropping Premier League points on more than one occasion already this season.
Here's a flavour of his thoughts on De Gea's efforts from last weekend, telling the MEN: "I think he doesn't save many points because he's my goalkeeper - his obligation is to hold balls," said the Dutchman. "You are thinking that is an exception. For other goalkeepers it's not like that."
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United have three months to agree deal or sell
De Gea's contract situation places United in a very difficult situation, but with his deal up next summer the period between now and the end of the season is vital in terms of his long-term future at Old Trafford.
United are desperately trying to persuade De Gea that there's no rush to return to his home city of Madrid, despite Real clearly needing a replacement for Iker Casillas.
De Gea's agent Jorge Mendes in currently in Manchester and was at last night's clash between City and Barcelona at the Etihad, so there's every chance talks over fresh terms are continuing as we speak.
Ultimately United are reaching breaking point though, if De Gea has not signed by June they will have to reluctantly consider selling to Madrid or another top European club, or risk a messy divorce and more painfully a free transfer for one of the world's top young goalkeepers in 2016.
No top-four means De Gea will surely leave?
Even for a club with United's considerable financial resources that is simply unthinkable, something has to give and a compromise has to reached to avoid that disaster sooner rather than later.
De Gea is perfectly within his rights to hold out and wait to see if United secure Champions League football, because in all honestly could you blame him for wanting to join Carlo Ancelotti's side if the Red Devils fail to secure a top-four finish.
United fans, do you think De Gea will still be at Old Trafford next season. Could Van Gaal have handled this situation differently? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below!
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