Manchester United target Manuel Neuer has opened contract negotiations to extend his contract with Bundesliga outfit Schalke reports The Telegraph.
The German international goalkeeper has a €15million (£12.8m) minimum fee release clause in his current contract which has attracted the attention of a number of leading European clubs.
Since the announcement that Edwin Van der Sar will be hanging up his gloves at the end of the season, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is in the market for the Dutchman’s replacement between the sticks at Old Trafford.
But a move to bring Neuer to Manchester United could be scuppered now that Schalke have opened discussions to retain the 24-year-old’s services who is also wanted by German rivals Bayern Munich.
Schalke head coach Felix Magath reaffirmed, “He is definitely with us until 2012. But we are in conversation and will meet again in the spring.
“The discussions so far suggest that we have a chance to extend Manuel’s contract.”
The Red Devil’s goalkeeping coach Eric Steele admitted earlier in the month that United had identified three leading contenders to replace Van der Sar should they fail in their bid to bring Neuer to Old Trafford.
The €15m release clause is something that Manchester United officials would be willing to activate, but the original deal signed by Neuer also allows Schalke to reject such an offer providing they offer the player a 20 per cent increase on his existing €2m-a-year salary.
The 6ft 4in shot-stopper who impressed in Germany’s run to the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa was courted by Manchester United scouts in the summer, and remains very much at the top of Alex Ferguson’s wish-list this time round when the transfer window reopens in June.