Manchester United will be forced to play their opening fixture at Old Trafford against Tottenham without star names in David de Gea, Marcos Rojo and Bastian Schweinsteiger, with a lack of match fitness cited as the reason for the omission of the latter two from the squad.
De Gea, however, has been excluded on account of the prolonged transfer saga involving Spanish club Real Madrid, who have made no secret of their pursuit for the United goalkeeper following an exceptional individual season last year for the Spaniard.
Born in Madrid, the 24-year-old rose through the ranks of Atletico Madrid’s youth academy, making his professional debut for the side in 2009. His transfer to then-champions Manchester United came as a result of the retirement of legendary goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, and he has gone on to make 131 appearances for the club.
In a move that might unsettle Red Devils followers, Van Gaal has made it clear their talismanic keeper would not be playing at the weekend.
“He shall not play,” Van Gaal revealed during a press conference this morning.
“We are living in a crazy football world. The transfer period is still going on and the competition is starting as well. You never know what will happen. You know we have problems with De Gea.
“I’m not participating in the process. I’m fighting against the transfer period. I know what the process is like and what it means for clubs, managers and players. It is not easy for David de Gea to manage his situation now.”
He also explained the Rojo and Schweinsteiger absences, saying, “Rojo came (back) one week ago, Schweinsteiger came at the last moment, I don’t think that he is fit enough.”
Van Gaal refused to name who would start in place of de Gea, but with Victor Valdes and Anders Lindegaard both nearing their United exit, and Sergio Romero’s relative unfamiliarity with the squad, the Dutchman might be forced to call upon 22-year-old Sam Johnstone.
United will be looking to start off the season with a win, as they look to claim their first trophy since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.