It was confirmed this week that Dutch goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar will retire at the end of this season at the age of 40-years-old. While the former Ajax and Fulham goalkeeper is still very much Manchester United’s number one ‘keeper for this season, speculation is already building regarding a replacement. Here, I run through who has been tipped to join United and who I think will eventually be between the sticks for the Red Devils.
The current Ajax ‘keeper took over from Van der Sar as goalkeeper for the Dutch national team after he retired from international football. Stekelenburg, who is thought to be the favourite to join United at the end of the season, has made over 180 appearances for Ajax after being coming out of the youth system in 2001. The 28-year-old has, to date, made thirty-four appearances for Holland and the ‘keeper, who stands at 6 ft. 6in, has performed well on the big stage after being part of the Dutch team who reached the World Cup final last summer.
Neuer may be younger and therefore more of a risk for Sir Alex Ferguson to take but, having already made 141 appearances in the Bundesliga for Schalke and established himself as Germany’s first choice goalkeeper, the Schalke youth product could well be United’s preferred move. Neuer has apparently modelled himself on former-Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
A highly unlikely move but with Liverpool seemingly spiralling out of control at the moment it would not be a surprise if Reina, one of Liverpool’s best players, were to leave the Anfield club. The rivalry between United and Liverpool will obviously act as a sticking point but Reina’s distribution and ability with his feet as well as his hands could make him a target Sir Alex.
David De Gea
De Gea is another young ‘keeper who has been tipped to join a major European side in the near future. The 20-year-old currently plays for Atletico Madrid and has particularly impressed in the last couple of seasons, making thirty-six appearances for the club he started his career with. De Gea is a slightly smaller yet agile ‘keeper and is certainly one to look out for in the future.
The Russian goalkeeper is captain of CSKA Moscow and, at the tender age of twenty-five, has made almost 200 appearances for the club whom he rose up through the youth ranks with. Akinfeev, who stands at 6ft. 1in. tall, was widely tipped as the best young goalkeeper when he broke into the CSKA side at the age of seventeen and, although a move has never materialised, he has been first-choice ‘keeper at the club ever since and has made nearly fifty appearances for Russia. He’s an outsider but his experience of playing at the top level with a big club (Akinfeev won the UEFA Cup in 2005 as well as eleven Russian trophies since 2003) could force United to consider the ‘keeper in their search.
When Peter Schmeichel left United in 1999, Ferguson was left a little in the lurch as he was forced to find a new goalkeeper. With Van der Sar ready to leave at the end of the season it looks as though Ferguson doesn’t want to make the same mistake again and, with Stekelenburg, De Gea and Neuer already installed as favourites, it may not be too long before the number one jersey is taken once again. The signing of a new goalkeeper will almost certainly mean that Thomasz Kuszczak, who for a long time was seen as Van der Sar’s eventual replacement, will leave the club in search of first team football. This will leave youngster Ben Amos and new signing Anders Lindegaard as the reserve ‘keepers.
This article originally appeared on sports website Sports Haze but is now unavailable due to the site closing down.
Picture from supermf