Who can replace Van der Saar as United’s number one?

by Charlie Coffey

Friday, October 29th, 2010

With rumours abound that Edwin van der Saar is going to hang up his gloves at the end of this season, My11 takes a look at five possible replacements for the big Dutchman.

After the retirement of the Great Dane, Peter Schmeichel, in 1999, United signed a multitude of keepers who were eventually deemed below the required standard including Fabien Barthez, Massimo Taibi and Mark Bosnich. Having seen how the lack of a consistent performer in goal undermined their performances until van der Saar joined from Fulham in 2005, United will look to replace him with a keeper of proven quality to prevent the same problem happening again.

1. Thomas Kuszczak

The Pole has finally beaten off competition from Ben Foster to be van der Saar’s only real understudy at United, and has been picked ahead of vdS recently after an uncharacteristic error from the former Netherland hero caused United to drop two points against West Brom recently. Has shown loyalty and patience in waiting for his chance but has yet to fully convince Alex Ferguson that his is of the required calibre to be United’s undisputed number one. The 28-year-old may look to leave if he is still considered second choice behind a new signing when vdS retires.

2. Pepe Reina

Rumours this week have linked the Spaniard with an unlikely £12m move from Liverpool to Manchester. Transfers between the two rivals are almost unheard of, and with Reina remaining loyal to Liverpool throughout their recent difficulties, it may be that he would choose to stay anyway. Whatever the logistical implications of such a move, there is no doubt that Reina, 28, is of the required standard to wear the number one shirt at united in place of vdS, having been one of the best, if not the best keeper in the Premier League for some years despite only being second or even third choice for his country.

3. Igor Akinfeev

The Russian has been linked with a move to old Trafford for a couple of seasons now, an impressed against united for CSKA Moscow last season. He was, at 18, the youngest ever keeper to represent Russia and six years on is captain of CSKA as well as being one of the most coveted keepers in the world. At 6ft 1 he is not the tallest of keepers, but is an excellent shot-stopper. One criticism he endured a year or so ago was that he let in too many shots between his legs, but he has since remedied this by working on his positioning. It only seems a matter of time before Akinfeev moves to a big European club, although United are just one of a few (including Arsenal) to have shown an interest in signing him, and would have to fork out anything between £10m and £20m for that pleasure.

4. Shay Given

The Irishman has been regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in England for some time now, and would be interested in a move away from Manchester City given his role as a back-up to first choice Joe Hart. When Wayne Rooney’s future was in doubt earlier this month talk was of Given being part of a part-exchange deal, but unless there was a similar incentive City may be unwilling to sell to the club they are trying to usurp as local rivals and in the race for major silverware. Another factor that would count against Given’s chances of a move to United is that his age makes him further down the pecking order to someone like Akinfeev who is 10 years his junior. Having said that vdS was already 36 before his move to United in 2005.

5. David de Gea

The Athletico Madrid youngster is being touted as one of the finest goalkeeping talents in the world at the moment, and is even referred to as the new Iker Casillas. At the age of just 19 the 6ft 3½ inch Spaniard is now the undisputed first choice at Athletico having wrestled the shirt from fellow highly-rated young Spaniard Sergio Asenjo. United have been scouting de Gea, and apparently have been told they can have him for £21m, a fee that would make him the second-most valuable keeper in history after Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon. Given their current financial situation though, United might baulk at such a large fee.

Read Charlie Coffey’s brilliant blog at my11.com.

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  • Danny Goodwin

    Hugo Lloris?

  • http://www.mywebsite.com Guest

    Joe Hart (not Paul)

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