Jose Mourinho has demanded David de Gea puts speculation over his future to one side and focuses on Manchester United’s season run-in.
The Spain goalkeeper was on the verge of a deadline day move to Real Madrid at the start of the 2015-16 season but a failure to process paperwork in time kept him in Manchester.
Keylor Navas’ poor form this season means a new keeper reportedly remains high on the agenda at the Santiago Bernabeu but Mourinho does not want De Gea to become side-tracked as his EFL Cup winners chase Europa League glory and a top-four spot in the Premier League.
“I’m not interested in the speculation. If the player is, he shouldn’t [be],” Mourinho told a news conference ahead of Thursday’s Europa League quarter-final first leg at Anderlecht.
“Every match for us is crucial. In the Premier League we lose a match and the top four gets almost impossible. In the Europa League, we lose a match and we are in trouble.
“Every match demands total focus. I don’t see David with any problem related to this. The end of the season is the time when players can be thinking about what is going to happen with their careers.”
Mourinho has decisions to make over shuffling his squad and possibly prioritising one competition over the other.
Champions League qualification via the Premier League remains in United’s hands but a daunting run-in, featuring games against leaders Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham, adds weight to the argument that winning the Europa League might be their best route back into Europe’s elite competition.
Nevertheless, Mourinho claims there is no way he could consider selecting a below-strength XI for the game at Chelsea that is sandwiched by the Anderlecht tie.
“It’s still mathematically very possible to finish top four. I think, if we played against Chelsea with a second team, you would kill me, the football country would kill me,” he said.
“While it’s mathematically possible, we have to try, with the risks you are speaking about.
“If at a certain moment of the season we have no chance and we’re still in the Europa League, then we have a reason.
“Manchester United history is so big, so bigger than many other clubs that are playing Champions League, that if Manchester United don’t play Champions League for three or four years then it doesn’t affect the prestige.
“So Manchester United doesn’t have to play Champions League, but it wants to play.”
He added: “We need to fight with everything we have to try to play Champions League next season. How can we do that? By winning Europa League or finishing top four.
“We still have two open doors. If one day, one door closes, we have another open and we have to go with everything until the end.
“My feeling is that we’re going to fight with everything we have in both competitions. But honestly, I have a special feeling with the Europa League and the players are the same, because it’s a competition we can win. It can give us the same as top four but it can give us a title.”