Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has been dropped for Saturday’s Premier League opener against Tottenham because he is not focused enough, manager Louis van Gaal said.
De Gea’s future at Old Trafford looks increasingly uncertain amid interest from Real Madrid.
And the Spain international, who has a year to run on his contract, “cannot manage the situation”, Van Gaal said.
The manager refused to say who would play instead, but there is a possibility that Sam Johnstone may be called up for his club debut.
Johnstone, 22, played more minutes on United’s pre-season tour than any of the other four goalkeepers on the club’s books.
Victor Valdes is out of favour after Van Gaal alleged that he refused to play in an Under 21 match, while Anders Lindegaard looks likely to leave on a free transfer.
New signing Sergio Romero, brought in this summer after being released by Sampdoria, is an experienced alternative, having played for Argentina in last year’s World Cup final and at the recent Copa America.
Van Gaal must decide whether he is ready to throw in Romero, who did not play for United in pre-season.
The manager said: “We have problems with De Gea. I don’t know what the solution is. That’s in progress. But I cannot lead this process. I can only watch and observe. I am not participating in the process.
“It is not easy for him to manage his situation now.
“He shall not play, so I don’t have any concerns. I think a human being is more than only a player, and he cannot manage that situation.”
Asked if that meant Romero would start, the manager said: “You will have to wait and see.”
Van Gaal has held back from sending Johnstone, 22, out on loan to Preston as he considers his options.
The Championship side have instead brought in Jordan Pickford on loan from Sunderland.
Johnstone, a former England Under 20 international, has gained experience in the lower divisions during loan spells at Scunthorpe, Walsall, Yeovil, Doncaster and Preston.
The dropping of De Gea has come after he disappointed Van Gaal with an error during United’s final pre-season match, against Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago on July 29.
De Gea was involved in a mix-up with Phil Jones and Luke Shaw, which allowed Blaise Matuidi to score PSG’s second goal in a 2-0 win.
It was only the second appearance for United by De Gea in pre-season, having recovered from a hamstring injury sustained against Arsenal in May.
Van Gaal also indicated that his squad has been left light on attacking threat following Argentina winger Angel Di Maria’s £44.3 million (Dh251.2m) move to Paris Saint-Germain.
The manager said: “It is a big loss. When I say I want more attackers with speed and creativity, Di Maria is one of those players.
“We have to look for that player. They have to have the talent to cope with the English rhythm and this is difficult to find.”
Meanwhile, United winger Ashley Young has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Old Trafford until at least June 2018.
The deal for Young, who joined the club from Aston Villa in August 2011, has the option for a further 12 months.
Young said: “I am delighted to have signed a new contract. The spirit and motivation among this team is very high and we are all determined to make this a season to remember.”
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