Manchester United are keen to bring in Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to provide competition for David De Gea, but should Sir Alex Ferguson consider Shay Given instead?
Reports have emerged claiming the Red Devils have sent scouts to watch Begovic in action for Bosnia & Herzegovina this week.
Ferguson is keen a move for a goalkeeper in the summer with Anders Lindegaard set to leave Old Trafford to join West Ham and Ben Amos not deemed good enough to challenge De Gea for the number one jersey.
But Begovic would not come cheap - reports suggest that United will have to pay at least £8m for the 25-year-old.
What Ferguson seems set on is a ‘keeper of a certain age to provide a realistic challenge to De Gea, but given the excellent nature of his performances over the last few months is that the right way to go?
Bringing in Begovic or someone similar will only ever be a short-term measure: either De Gea fulfils his potential and the number two pines for first-team football and leaves the club, or De Gea is ousted and sold off for a considerable loss back to Spain.
The days of goalkeeper’s accepting their role as a back-up seem numbered, with agents happy to find offers of more money and better first-team opportunities elsewhere for their clients.
The answer for United, however, might lie a little closer to home.
Given has found himself well and truly relegated to bench duty at Villa Park as American stopper Brad Guzan has established himself as first choice under Paul Lambert.
While his ability is unquestionable, Lambert seems unsure over his commitment to the cause and now aged 36, Given will be seeking a new challenge – especially if Villa are relegated to the Championship.
Regardless of what division they are in, Villa chairman Randy Lerner will be looking to get Given’s wages off the books in the summer, and with his years of experience and proven ability to perform at the top level Given represents a tempting proposition for Ferguson.
Any transfer fee would be negligible and Given would not expect a first-team role, instead being happy to pass on his experience to the young apprentice and making appearances in the cup competitions.
Age is against the Irishman and it would be a short-term move but it may fill a gap for United without being forced into spending big unnecessarily. Some will point to the fact that he is an ex-Manchester City player but that will bear little significance in any eventual decision.
Overall, Given is a quality ‘keeper with a wealth of knowledge to pass on. From United’s point of view he represents little outlay for an almost guaranteed return and, as for Given himself, surely he’d rather sit on the bench at Old Trafford than Villa Park?
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