David de Gea has warned it's inconceivable for Manchester United to finish outside of the Premier League's top four for two years in a row, and underlined how important it is for a club of such size and stature to return to the Champions League next season.
The Red Devils goalkeeper's comments prove how desperate he is to be involved in Europe's elite club competition in 2015/16 that failure to qualify could result in the Spain international leaving Old Trafford.
De Gea has been the stand-out performer at the Theatre of Dreams during Louis van Gaal's debut campaign as manager, and so losing the world-class custodian in the summer would be a massive setback.
Manchester United currently occupy fourth place with a five-point cushion between themselves and Liverpool in fifth thanks to that vital 2-1 victory at Anfield prior to the international break.
With eight games to play Van Gaal's men are only two points behind reigning champions Manchester City in second spot, so a strong end-of-season run-in will ensure that De Gea's expectations are met.
"We have to qualify for the Champions League, no matter what," he was quoted saying by the Daily Mail. "We already missed out last season, and a team like Manchester United cannot do that two years in a row."
The Red Devils return to domestic action against Aston Villa on Saturday, where they'll be looking to add another three points in order to help further cement their place in the top four.
However, given the competitive nature of the Premier League, De Gea knows he and his team-mates will not be able to rest on their laurels, having experienced first hand what it's like playing week-in week-out in the English top-flight.
"I'm a composed, calm type, which helps me in my profession," explained the former Atletico Madrid stopper. "As a keeper, you need to convey a sense of calm to the rest of the team. But, truth be told, English football has changed me a great deal.
"English football has changed me a great deal," - David de Gea
"I've developed a lot physically, I have greatly improved my concentration and have generally improved all aspects of my game.
"I was very young when I came here but, four years on, things are very good overall. This league really suits me, as you learn a lot here."
Manchester United fans: Will Champions League qualification be enough to retain David de Gea's services for another season? Where do you think the team will finish in the Premier League? Have your say below...
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