Liverpool broke the world record with the £65million signing of Brazil’s Alisson from Roma.
That deal was then topped by Chelsea’s astonishing £71m signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga from Athletic Bilbao, the Spanish stopper arriving as replacement for Thibaut Courtois, who moved to Real Madrid for £34m.
But Mourinho goes into Sunday’s match at Brighton stressing: “Would I swap De Gea for anyone? No. That’s the best question and the easiest answer.” And Mourinho said the valuation on De Gea, 27, was “zero” – because he was not on the market.
The Spaniard cost United what has been proven to be a bargain £18m from Atletico Madrid seven years ago. And Mourinho said of his keeper: “His valuation is zero because he is a Manchester United player who, as soon as possible, will sign a new contract.
“He likes it here, we love him, we want him to stay, he wants to stay, so when a player is not in the market the value is zero.
“The old story of ‘I’d pay that for a striker, but I wouldn’t pay it for a goalkeeper’ is old fashioned. The market now understands that and I am happy for the keepers.
“But with David, it is a collective situation involving the player, his agent and Manchester United.
“The agent didn’t create a war to try to achieve his objectives. He respected the club, he respected the player, the player was always keen to stay and happy to do so and the club understood how important he was.
“So we have always tried to give him the conditions to make him happy, so credit to all three parties.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful or arrogant about other keepers and say Courtois is not good or Manuel Neuer (of Bayern Munich) is not good – there are so many. What I am saying is that I wouldn’t swap De Gea for anyone.”
There is no doubt that Mourinho regards his club as being in safe hands. And he confirmed that he has not had a fall-out with record signing and World Cup winner Paul Pogba, who will again captain the side at Brighton in the absence of Antonio Valencia.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton is backing the way Mourinho has handled his squad at Old Trafford – and insists the Special One is still a huge plus for the English game.
Hughton was asked if he ever questioned the way the United boss criticised players like midfielder Pogba in public – and he gave a passionate answer.
“No, never,” he said.
“The top managers – and Jose is absolutely a top manager – are top managers for a reason.
“Managers like myself would have nothing but respect for the way that they get their teams playing, the success they have. In the end it’s about what results they get. And Jose gets far, far more good results than bad results.
“Jose is a huge plus for our game and for the Premier League – and he will continue to be so.”