Louis van Gaal has risked ruining Manchester United's chances of securing the long-term future of David De Gea after refusing to acknowledge the important contribution made by the Spanish goalkeeper this season.
The Manchester Evening News carries quotes from the Red Devils boss which suggest the 24-year-old stopper does not need to be singled out for individual praise, because he's just "doing his job" in goal at Old Trafford.
Van Gaal's comments are somewhat surprising given the fact that De Gea has been Manchester United's stand-out performer in 2014/15 and by far and away the team's most consistent player in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
The £17.8 million signing from Atletico Madrid in 2011 has been commended for his match-winning performances in wins against Everton, Southampton and Stoke City to name but a few, which has proved instrumental in the team's rise to third place in the Premier League table.
It's no exaggeration to suggest that without De Gea the Red Devils' hopes of finishing in the top four would be far more unlikely, and that's why the club is currently negotiating a new £200,000-a-week contract with their No.1 custodian that will make him the highest paid goalkeeper in world football.
However, with Real Madrid also circling, Van Gaal's perceived lack of gratitude could prove detrimental to Manchester United's chances of reaching agreement with the Spain international. Supporters will be understandably outraged if the Dutch coach's ungratefulness results in a departure from the Theatre of Dreams.
"I think he doesn't save many points because he's my goalkeeper - his obligation is to hold balls," said the 63-year-old. "You are thinking that is an exception. [But] for other goalkeepers it's not like that."
Victor Valdes - the former Barcelona goalkeeper that was brought in on an 18-month deal in January - recently suggested that De Gea has overtaken Manuel Neuer as the best player in his specialist position on the planet, but Van Gaal was unwilling to pay a similar compliment.
"I never speak about that because I cannot judge other goalkeepers," he added. "I can only judge my goalkeeper."
If De Gea does have any doubts about signing a contract extension at Manchester United, then this public lack of appreciation might well convince him to push for a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
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