Based on David de Gea’s first few months in English football few could have predicted that four years later the Spaniard would be in the middle of a tug of war between Manchester United and Real Madrid, but yet here we are.
The young keeper’s development has been nothing short of remarkable and now the opportunity to return to his home town has presented itself. De Gea would undoubtedly be a fantastic signing for the Madrid giants, the perfect man to take over the gloves from the veteran Iker Casillas. However the move, which seems increasingly likely, is set to put Manchester United in a difficult position. One that they have been in before.
Replacing goalkeepers has proved a difficult task over the years for Manchester United. When Peter Schmeichel left the Old Trafford club in 1999 it wasn’t until 2005 that United found a worthy replacement in the shape of Edwin van der Sar.
When the Dutchman himself departed it again left United with a predicament. The £17.8 million signing of De Gea seemed to be one that wasn’t going to work out. It certainly took time for De Gea to develop into the top class keeper that fans of Manchester United have grown to expect.
Now the club is faced once again with the departure of its first choice goalkeeper and replacing him could once again prove to be a difficult task. It appears that there will be no shortage of funds available to Louis van Gaal this summer and a new goalkeeper looks set to be an important investment.
Not only is De Gea set to leave but Ben Amos has been released and Anders Lindegaard’s future remains in the balance. Manchester United could well be in a position where they have just one senior goalkeeper.
Victor Valdes is a proven goalkeeper and his experience could be valuable for the squad but Van Gaal seems reluctant to make the 33-year-old the club's new number one. At his age he is certainly not a long term option for United and his fitness could prove to be a problem.
It seems that Valdes will be a more than adequate back up but is not in a position to be the club’s first choice goalkeeper for next season. Therefore the question is, who will replace De Gea?
It is a question that Van Gaal has no doubt given much thought to amid the speculation of the past few months. However this will not make it any easier to bring in an adequate replacement. United have been linked to a long list of goalkeepers over the last few weeks.
Petr Cech, who looks set to leave Chelsea, has been touted as a potential arrival, but he can surely only be regarded as a short term fix rather than a long term replacement. If United are going to sell a young keeper then surely it would make more sense to replace him with one?
Hugo Lloris is looking an increasingly likely replacement. At 28 he is only four years older than De Gea. His Premier League and Champions League experience make him the outstanding candidate for the position. However signing Lloris will be difficult.
United has a history of difficult negotiations with Spurs most recently the £30 million signing of Dimitar Berbatov. Daniel Levy is known for driving a hard bargain, especially when United are involved. The sale of Lloris will be no different.
Levy will be aware that United are desperate for a new keeper and also of the vast sums of money at Van Gaal’s disposal. These two factors will likely drive up Lloris’ price and United could find themselves once again paying over the odds for a player, a feeling they grew all too familiar with last summer.
There is no doubting that Lloris would be a worthy replacement, he has all the experience needed and is still young in goalkeeping terms but is he worth a fee in the region of £25 to 30 million? It’s certainly debatable.
A strong case could be made for approaching younger and potentially cheaper options. It’s apparent that there are some outstanding candidates overseas that perhaps don’t get the media attention they deserve.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno is only 23 years of age and last season notched up 18 Bundesliga clean sheets, second only to Manuel Neuer. Meanwhile in the French Ligue 1 Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes had an excellent season, aged 24 he racked up 14 clean sheets.
An even younger option would be Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak, at just 22 years of age he has impressed in the Champions League especially his performance against Real Madrid in the quarter-finals of this year’s competition.
Goalkeepers who leave Atletico tend to have good careers and with Oblak history could well repeat itself. These are just three younger options that United could consider. Unlike Lloris they are not the finished article but you would imagine that they’d be available for considerably less. United is a club that generally gives its young players the time they need to develop so a move for a young keeper would make a lot of sense.
Van Gaal will probably already know who his De Gea replacement will be and until a new goalkeeper puts pen to paper we can only guess who will be coming in. However two things are becoming increasingly clear, replacing him will be difficult and replacing him will be expensive.
In the summer’s continuing rebuild the allocation of funds will be crucial which means careful consideration needs to be given to who is going to replace Manchester United’s departing number one.
Who should Manchester United sign to replace David de Gea? Let us know below!