Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has cooled speculation linking goalkeeper David de Gea with a summer move to Real Madrid despite dropping the Spaniard for Wednesday's stalemate with Southampton.
It was De Gea’s understudy Sergio Romero who ensured United left St Mary’s Stadium with a point after a string of saves, including the repelling of an early penalty from Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini.
Real have been tipped to make a renewed bid for De Gea during the close season after their approach in 2014 failed due to errant paperwork.
Mourinho, however, who intends to play rookie stopper Joel Pereira against Crystal Palace on Sunday and Romero in next week’s Europa League final, expects De Gea to be a United player when pre-season rolls around.
Asked when De Gea is next expected to be in a United shirt, the Portuguese said: “I think the first match against LA Galaxy in pre-season in Los Angeles.
“I hope to play Joel against Crystal Palace and Sergio in the final. Hopefully we won’t have problems with these goalkeepers. But David is top in the world and obviously we want to keep the top in the world.”
Despite extolling De Gea’s virtues, Mourinho was full of praise for Romero, who has won 87 caps for Argentina, after the 30-year-old kept his 11th clean sheet in 17 United appearances this season.
“Sergio had a very good performance, I would say more than very good,” added Mourinho.
“We have the Argentina national goalkeeper and the Spanish national goalkeeper: two of the best national teams in the world with good traditions of goalkeepers in both countries. We have these two guys and they are phenomenal.”
Southampton wasted the game’s best chance on five minutes when Gabbiadini’s penalty was saved by Romero after Eric Bailly was adjudged to have handled, although replays suggested he was outside the area.
Bailly then forced Saints’ Fraser Forster into a smart save, while Romero was called upon numerous times in the second period to keep Southampton at bay. United’s clearest opportunity came on 72 minutes when Anthony Martial’s curling effort struck the post.