United eye long-term options despite new deal for Spaniard TEN HAG LOOKING FOR HEIR TO DE GEA
MANCHESTER UNITED are running the rule over several options to replace David De Gea long term – but expect him to start next season as their No.1.
The goalkeeper is poised to sign a deal on reduced terms from his £375,000-a-week contract which runs out in June.
Both sides are confident an agreement will be reached on what will probably be a three-year contract with manager Erik ten Hag, right, backing De Gea publicly once again after his West Ham blunder.
But United scouts are looking at several options to come in on an equal footing to De Gea next season with a view to a smooth transition.
Brentford’s David Raya, Porto’s Diogo Costa and Feyenoord goalkeeper and Holland No.2 Justin Bijlow have been floated as possible successors.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford could also come into the picture if Everton are relegated.Ten Hag is keen on AC Milan’s France international Mike Maignan but United are thought unlikely to be able to prise him away from Italy this summer. Uncertainty over transfer plans stemming from the possible change of ownership at the club are hampering the search for replacements with a striker and midfielder deemed higher on the list of priorities. While fingers continue to be pointed at De Gea, Ten Hag made the point after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat by West Ham and his costly mistake, with Said Benrahma’s tame shot beating him, that the club would not be in the position they are this season had it not been for the 32-yearold Spaniard. “I have no concerns,” said Ten Hag. “We want him to stay and we want him to extend his contract. It happens and as a team you have to deal with it, show resilience and bounce back.”
De Gea’s backers – and he still has support at the club – claim fourth spot in the league with an FA Cup final is due in large part to the Spaniard’s good season between the posts.
But after the latest blunder, the questions on the other side of the balance sheet are also being looked at.
He remains a fine shot stopper but is unconvincing with the ball at his feet and would have to improve in that area if he is to fit in to Ten Hag’s medium-term plans. The argument that United might not be looking nervously over their shoulder at Liverpool’s charge for a Champions League place and could be shooting for a Europa League final place as well but for mistakes from their gloveman in the second leg of their quarter-final against Sevilla has gained some traction around Old Trafford.
De Gea is keen to extend his stay, although he accepts it will be on a reduced salary, with £200,000 a week being offered by the club, subject to clauses regarding European participation. In some ways, the former Atletico Madrid stopper is in a win-win situation with the protracted takeover saga – with Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe making bids – having an impact on recruitment.
If United hold on to fourth spot as seems likely – they have a one-point lead over fifth-placed Liverpool with four games to go and a game in hand on their rivals – Ten Hag’s faith will have been vindicated.
But if they fail to hold on, United look set to settle for De Gea to start next season with money spent elsewhere and someone to score at the other end the No.1 priority.