Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Manchester United are doing everything they can to agree a new deal with David De Gea – but the caretaker boss has paved the way for club captain Antonio Valencia to leave this summer.
There are still 10 matches of the Premier League campaign remaining, but the summer is looming large and the Old Trafford giants are trying to mould their squad for an improved title challenge next term.
United have tied a number of key players down to new deals recently but De Gea’s negotiations continue to bumble along, despite the goalkeeper’s apparent desire to remain at a club he joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
The demands around the deal are understood to have held things up as talks continue with the goalkeeper.
“No updates from me on that one,” Solskjaer said.
“Of course, the club and David are in dialogue, so hopefully they’ll agree.
“It’s out of my hands anyway, but I’m sure we’ll do what we can.
“David’s done fantastic since he came. The club really showed how much they wanted him back in the day when Eric (Steele, goalkeeping coach) and the gaffer (Sir Alex Ferguson) found him.
“There was probably keepers there that were better at that time, but the belief that the manager showed in him with the criticism that he got early just pays dividends now with the performances.
“He’s been player of the year for I don’t know how many years, the last four or five years, so we’re grateful to have him.
“Then again, we’ve got Sergio (Romero) and Lee (Grant), so it’s a fantastic goalkeeper department that we have, so I don’t think there’s any manager in the world that will beat me in that respect.”
But while United are attempting to keep De Gea at the club, long-serving full-back Valencia appears to be heading for the exit door.
Appointed captain by Jose Mourinho in the summer, the 33-year-old has managed just eight appearances this season – and a calf injury has restricted him to just one start under Solskjaer.
Valencia’s contract is set to expire in the summer and Press Association Sport understands the club have until 5pm on Friday to trigger the one-year extension clause built into his deal.
“He’s still not 100 per cent fit,” Solskjaer said of the Ecuador intentional, who joined from Wigan in 2009 amid interest from Real Madrid.
“He’s still working to get back fit and he’s had a fantastic career here at Man United and in England. He’s one of the Premier League winners left in the dressing room.
“But at the moment I’m not sure if Man United and Antonio will agree on the next year, so it depends how he… if he gets back on the pitch as well in the next few months.
“But Antonio’s the captain, a great servant to the club, so hopefully I can get him on the pitch so he can show what he can do. Or he can get himself 100 per cent and get back on the pitch.”
Valencia will be among a number of absentees when Southampton look to end Solskjaer’s 11-match unbeaten Premier League run on Saturday.
Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard remain absent along with Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic and Matteo Darmian.
Anthony Martial could return to the fold after a groin complaint and Marcus Rashford is primed to start after being named on the bench in Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.
“It’s the last session today but we’re not going to take any risks so maybe Anthony (could play), but it might even be a few more days before he’s ready,” Solskjaer said.
“So probably the squad will look similar to what it did on Wednesday.
“Rashford (is fully fit). He said he still felt it Wednesday night, so he’ll be ready, so I’ll probably start him.”