Manchester United could replace David De Gea with Aston Villa man

Aston Villa goalkeeper and Man united target Tom Heaton punching the air

Manchester United will try to sign their former goalkeeper Tom Heaton this summer if they miss out on West Brom's Sam Johnstone, according to The Sun.

What's the latest news on Heaton?

Johnstone, who was also previously on United's books, is the club's first-choice option to compete with Dean Henderson for the goalkeeper's jersey next season.

However, it is understood that he would need to be convinced that he will get regular playing time at Old Trafford. If he does not receive this guarantee, then the Red Devils are expected to turn their attention to Heaton.

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How has he fared since leaving United?

Having come through the United youth system, Heaton was sent out on loan on a number of occasions before eventually joining Cardiff permanently in 2010.

He has since featured at four different clubs, including Burnley and Aston Villa. During his career, he has racked up 116 Premier League appearances, and kept 29 clean sheets.

The 35-year-old has received three international caps for England, having made his debut in 2016. He went on to make the squad for that year's Euros, but failed to play a minute of the tournament.

Where does this all leave David de Gea?

De Gea has been displaced by Henderson in United's line-up recently, with the England man having started each of the side's last seven league matches. This has led to speculation linking him with a move away this summer.

Given that de Gea earns £375,000-a-week - making him United's highest-paid player - it seems likely that the club will not want him to stick around to pick up such a hefty pay packet if he is just going to be on the bench.

With reports now linking United with a move for Heaton, this seems to be further evidence that de Gea is edging closer to the exit door at Old Trafford.

Would Heaton be a suitable replacement for de Gea?

It is hard to sugar-coat this one - bringing in Heaton for de Gea would be a major downgrade for United. Whilst it can be argued that the Spanish shot-stopper is not the force he once was, he has still enjoyed a glittering career.

During his 10-year stay at the club, de Gea has won four major honours, including lifting the Premier League trophy in 2013. He has also been voted United's Player of the Year on four occasions, signifying how he has played a major role since arriving from Atletico Madrid.

Meanwhile, Heaton has spent most of the past decade in the Championship or at bottom half Premier League clubs, highlighting how he been operating at a much lower level to de Gea.

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With Villa signing Emiliano Martinez last summer, Heaton has failed to make a top-flight appearance this season, meaning that he is also out of match practice.

United have had two fine goalkeepers battling for the no. 1 shirt this term. If de Gea leaves and Heaton replaces him, it seems unlikely that Henderson will face much less pressure for his spot in the side in 2021/22.

While it's inevitable United will not be able to bring in a second choice as talented as De Gea this summer, Heaton is simply too big a shift in the wrong direction.

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