Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha believes that his former club's chances of winning the Premier League title next season will be over if they lose David de Gea to Real Madrid.
The Spanish international is out of contract next year and has so far refused to put pen to paper on a contract said to be worth £200,000-per-week amidst reported interest from Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants are said to have already made contact with De Gea over a potential transfer, and Saha believes Manchester United will be starting the next campaign on the back foot already, such is his importance.
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He told TalkSPORT: "It’s huge [keeping De Gea]. When you have a goalkeeper who is a good one, with that kind of confidence, you are under less pressure. It’s very important.
A goalkeeper is as important as a striker in a championship winning team. Any manager will say that. If you have a problem with the goalkeeper, to win a championship is just impossible. That’s why it’s so important to get David De Gea to sign a new deal.
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De Gea was named Manchester United's player of the year last week for the second season running, and also earned a place in goal on the Premier League team of the year. Boss Louis van Gaal remains adamant that the former Atletico Madrid man will stay put, but concedes that the decision is now out of his hands.
"It is not easy to choose between two great clubs. We would be very happy if he stays," the Manchester United manager said. "He is Spanish and his girlfriend is Spanish and he can go to another great club, so it is difficult for him to decide.
"David De Gea shall not leave us so easily because we are a great club and he wants to participate. He is still behind Casillas but now a Spanish club is coming."
Van Gaal snapped up former Barcelona goalkeeper on an 18-month contract in the January window and he is likely to step up into the number one spot if De Gea does leave.
While De Gea will be a huge loss, it's a little bit of a stretch to say that they can't win the Premier League title if he leaves. Valdes is a more than adequate replacement who was a mainstay of one of the best sides of all time, while Hugo Lloris would be an outstanding replacement too.
De Gea was of course outstanding this season and saved his team on plenty of occasions, but if Van Gaal upgrades his defensive unit as expected whoever is in goal won't need to pull off as many heroics.