Man United deny rift between Van Gaal and De Gea
Manchester United insist goalkeeper David de Gea will not be frozen out of the team even if he refuses to sign a new contract.
Reports in Spain have claimed De Gea is worried about being left out of the side after his move to Real Madrid collapsed on transfer deadline day, leaving the 24-year-old at Old Trafford at least until January and probably until next summer.
The keeper was sidelined by manager Louis van Gaal during August while the uncertainty over his future continued, but the club say De Gea will now be treated just like any other member of the squad.
A United spokesman said: "Those reports are absolute rubbish, the team will always be picked solely on merit."
De Gea's current United contract expires at the end of the season and there is little expectation at the club that he will sign a new one, as he will be a free agent come June and able to sign a lucrative deal with a new club - almost certainly Real.
Reports in Spain had suggested that De Gea may not get a fair crack of the whip for United, something that would be a big problem for him at international level for Spain with the Euro 2016 finals next summer.
United are convinced, however, that De Gea will maintain his professionalism and compete for a first-team place against Argentina keeper Sergio Romero. Van Gaal had explained his absence from the team during August by saying he was not in the right frame of mind to play while a transfer to Madrid remained a possibility.
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has called for De Gea to "be professional and move on from this episode'', warning that he needs to be playing regularly at club level to remain in the international picture.
"I hope that he starts playing again and is happy,'' he said. "If he doesn't play, it will be very difficult for him to come to the Euros.''
United have now included his name in their Champions League squad, which means if he plays in the group stage he would be cup-tied should Madrid or any other club try to sign him in January - though it looks much more likely he will move on next summer.
United face PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg on their return to European competition.
Both United and Real Madrid have blamed each other after the move broke down due to paperwork not being submitted in time - United say they have a receipt from the FIFA transfer system proving they did so in time.