DAVID de Gea declared himself ready for selection after he put a difficult summer behind him by signing a new four-year contract at Manchester United.
Eleven days after coming within minutes of joining Real Madrid, De Gea signed a new contract at United worth £200,000 a week.
The Spaniard was left out of Louis van Gaal’s squad for the opening six matches while he was persistently linked with Real Madrid in one of the most intense transfer sagas of the summer.
But having now committed his future to United, De Gea is ready for battle. The 24-year-old performed well in Spain’s 1-0 win over Macedonia on Tuesday and now he is determined to make his first appearance of the season for United against bitter rivals Liverpool today. “It is a perfect moment to come back,” De Gea told MUTV.
“We are at Old Trafford against Liverpool, one of the biggest games in the world and I know the fans will love it if we win the game.
“I trained really hard and I played with my national team and of course I feel ready and 100 per cent fit.”
Given the events of the last few months, it is nothing short of remarkable that De Gea has signed a contract extension at Old Trafford.
In July senior sources at the club admitted they had given up any hope of persuading De Gea to stay. And on the Spanish deadline day just under two weeks ago, Madrid agreed a fee worth £29 million for the goalkeeper, with Keylor Navas coming the other way.
De Gea was ready to leave United for the Spanish capital, where his pop star girlfriend Edurne Garcia lives, but the relevant paperwork was not completed before the 11pm deadline.
Van Gaal, pictured, said he felt for De Gea and the ordeal he had “suffered”, but the goalkeeper insists the transfer talk is now a thing of the past. “[There was] lots of speculation this summer but I keep my hard work and now I am relaxed, I am happy here, now we have to look forward to this season, to play well, win the games and hopefully we can win a trophy,” he said.
“It was a different summer. I keep my focus, I keep calm and I keep my hard work. I feel really well. I would like to say thank you to them [the fans] for the support.”
Van Gaal admits he was braced to lose the two-time player of the year. “If Madrid paid the price and had the papers in order at the right time, he would have been sold,’’ Van Gaal said. “Everything can happen, especially at the end, and I had hope. Despite all the media saying he was going to Madrid, I didn’t sell him and he is here.
‘’I asked [executive vice-chairman] Ed [Woodward] if it is true that United sent the papers too late and he said ‘no’.
“The information is sufficient and at that time I thought only what De Gea was suffering, but it is the world of football and it is a crazy world.’’ As well as trying to resolve De Gea’s future, Woodward was also busy trying to wrap up the signing of the most expensive teenager in history on deadline day. Anthony Martial moved from Monaco to Old Trafford in a deal that could rise to £56m.
Van Gaal defended the massive fee, but admitted United fans must not expect too much too soon from the French 19-year-old.
“There is a market and a market price and we cannot have any influence on that price,’’ Van Gaal said.
“I said to Ed that he is the best of his age and we need a striker for the future. I imagine the fans think ‘£50m, he has to score’. No, he is 19 and he has to adapt.’’
Michael Carrick is available for tonight’s game after overcoming the calf injury that caused him to pull out of the England squad on Monday. Andreas Pereira came back from international duty with an injury and will therefore not play. Defender Phil Jones is still out as he continues his recovery from minor thrombosis.