David De Gea will become the world’s highest paid goalkeeper after agreeing a new six-year contract with Manchester United worth around £117 million.
But Romelu Lukaku remains determined to quit United and is hoping Inter Milan come back with an improved offer after the Italian club had an opening £54 million bid rejected.
De Gea – who made his first appearance of pre-season in United’s 1-0 win over Inter Milan in Singapore on Saturday – will put pen to paper on the new deal, which is believed to be worth around £375,000 a week, once he returns to Manchester from the tour.
Yet while the United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, will be relieved about the clarity over De Gea’s future, Lukaku remains stuck in limbo.
Teenage striker Mason Greenwood again took full advantage of Lukaku’s continued absence with the only goal against Inter in the International Champions Cup at Singapore’s National Stadium, three days after claiming his first senior goal in the 4-0 victory against Leeds United in Perth.
Solskjaer has ruled out any prospect of Greenwood being loaned out as the 17-year-old further boosted his chances of starting United’s opening Premier League game against Chelsea on August 11.
Solskjaer suggested for the first time on Saturday that United are able to play “a different way” without Lukaku but the manager risks being stuck with the Belgium striker unless Inter find a way of getting closer to his £90 million valuation. The Italian club need to offload Mauro Icardi, who is interesting Juventus, to free up cash.
“If you’re a player and don’t manage to train for a week – and he’s missed three games now – I think he’ll be concerned,” Solskjaer said. “He’s working to get back on the pitch and let’s see how long that takes. It’s his ankle.
“I think we have done really well without Romelu but we all know he’s one of the top, top strikers in the world. We’ve played a different way maybe with Anthony [Martial], Marcus [Rashford], Mason, so you adapt to the players who are available.”
Antonio Conte, the Inter coach, remains hopeful an agreement can be reached. “I like him because I consider him a player who could improve our team but on one side it is my hope, my will, on my other side we will see what we find with the club,” Conte said.
De Gea is believed to have thought long and hard about his future this summer after a dismal last season, when United finished sixth in the Premier League, 32 points adrift of champions Manchester City.
United’s willingness to make him the club’s highest paid player after Alexis Sanchez and the support he received from Solskjaer and the coaching staff in the final months of the campaign, when his form nosedived, had a significant bearing on his decision.
De Gea, 28, was said to have been at a very low ebb by the end of last season and needed his spirits lifting but he likes working with goalkeeping coach, Emilio Alvarez, and believes United can get back to challenging for top honours.
United would not sanction the England Under-21 goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, returning to Sheffield United on loan until De Gea’s future was resolved. But a meeting between Henderson’s agent, Sean McDaid, and United’s head of corporate development, Matt Judge, in London on Monday over a new contract for the goalkeeper went well and another loan deal with Sheffield United should be agreed soon. Henderson has attracted some interest from Bayern Munich but United regard him as a potential future No 1.
Solskjaer said the situation with Greenwood reminded him of the one Sir Alex Ferguson faced with Ryan Giggs almost 30 years ago as he insisted the youngster’s development would be carefully handled.
“Mason’s never been on my mind to send out on loan, he’s one that we have to keep at our place, keep him playing when we feel it’s good for him and at the moment he’s flying,” Solskjaer said. “He reminds me a little bit of the Giggsy story, you can’t really send him on loan and for me he’s ready to be in this squad.”
Ashley Young was booed by United fans at the National Stadium and Solskjaer said he would talk to his captain. “I’ve not spoken to him but I’ll have a chat with him yeah,” Solskjaer said.
“I think Ashley is a top professional, he always gives absolutely everything and his delivery today ended up with a goal, we want our fans to support our players and Ash has been a very loyal servant to this club for many years and he will keep on performing when he plays.”