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'De Gea & Van Gaal did not get on - that's why he wanted out' - Steele on failed Real Madrid move

14:48 BST 07/05/2020
David de Gea Everton vs Man Utd 2019-20
The Red Devils’ former goalkeeping coach has discussed regular links to the Liga club and the competition the Spaniard now faces from Dean Henderson

David de Gea wanted to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid due to differences with Louis van Gaal, claims Eric Steele, with the Spaniard now settled and ready to embrace the competition posed by Dean Henderson.

Speculation regarding a return to his homeland for the highly-rated goalkeeper raged across several windows before a move was finally ruled out.

De Gea had initially pushed for an exit during the reign of Van Gaal, before then seeing a fax machine issue prevent him from making a deadline-day switch to Santiago Bernabeu in 2017 – by which time Jose Mourinho was at the Red Devils helm.

Steele believes that a man who committed to a new four-year contract in September 2019 is happy again in his current surroundings, with any transfer plans having been shelved.

United’s former goalkeeper coach told the i paper: “When he was under Van Gaal we knew the reason why he wanted out – they did not get on, and it didn’t work.

“He would have gone to Real Madrid if it wasn’t for what happened on transfer deadline day.

“He was not displeased with the fans or the club, but it was clearly something that had gone on behind the scenes. Now things are different. He has got a smile on his face, the club are improving and I cannot see why he would want to leave.”

While De Gea is no longer looking for a way out of Old Trafford, he may be about to see his position as undisputed No.1 come under threat from academy graduate Henderson – who has been proving himself on a Premier League stage during a loan spell at Sheffield United.

Steele said: “Knowing Dean Henderson as I do, he will expect to walk into that Old Trafford dressing room and make the No.1 jersey his own, now.

“I signed him at 14 and stayed close to him – he has a great attitude. David will have known there was always going to be a young pretender to come and challenge him and that is what Dean will do.

“It will not faze David. You do not get to where David de Gea is today without overcoming obstacles.”

Steele added on the value that Henderson could add to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad: “When United are back in the Champions League, you can have a 65-game season. Nobody can play every game.

“Should contracts permit, United need to say to him [Henderson] ‘you are not going out on loan, you are here to compete with David’. He will value the experience at Sheffield United – he is better prepared now to take that challenge on.

“United are in such a strong position. David will relish the challenge and come back stronger.”