Manchester United are on the verge of signing 27-year-old Albanian goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha. The former Lazio goalkeeper is currently out of contract after almost ten years with Lazio in the Italian top flight, after joining the club’s academy in 2012.
The Albanian free agent went on to make 164 appearances in the league for the Italian giants, carving out a reputation for himself as one of the most respected shot-stoppers in the country.
According to a report by 90min, the Red Devils are close to finalizing a deal to bring Strakosha to Old Trafford, with the player keen on making a switch to the Premier League amidst interest from league rivals Chelsea and newly-promoted Fulham.
Manchester United have been linked with a move for a goalkeeper all summer, with names like Watford’s Daniel Bachmann and Newcastle’s Karl Darlow reported as genuine targets for the club and manager Erik ten Hag. Links for these two seem to have gone cold over the last few weeks, which could pave a path for Strakosha to join United’s goalkeeping union.
Dean Henderson, who served as De Gea’s deputy for a significant part of last season after failing to dislodge the Spanish international, recently completed a move to Nottingham Forest in search of first-team minutes. This, coupled with the earlier exit of Lee Grant, made it all more important for the Reds to address the goalkeeper position.
Strakosha looked likely to make a switch to Fulham before the move hit a snag due to collapsed talks and strained relations between the Cottagers and the player’s super-agent, Pini Zahavi. The West London club has since been reported to be close to bringing in Arsenal’s Bernd Leno, signaling the end of their pursuit for Strakosha.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel was also reportedly interested in the 19-times-capped goalkeeper as a backup to Senegal’s Edouard Mendy in the event of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s exit from the club.
The Albanian could potentially become Erik ten Hag’s second summer signing of his new era as Manchester United manager after the club successfully completed a coup for young Dutch and former Feyenoord defender Tyrell Malacia.
United would certainly be getting a keeper with sufficient pedigree. Strakosha would arrive at the club in good shape after finishing last season as Lazio’s first choice man between the sticks over Pepe Reina. The 27-year-old finished the last term with seven clean sheets in 23 appearances. In total, Strakosha has recorded 62 clean sheets across his 208 appearances in goal for the Biancocelesti in all competitions.
The Athens-born keeper would be a much-needed reinforcement for United. Almost every top-flight club operates with at least three active first-team goalkeepers. Strakosha would represent a cheap and decent option for United, coming with little to no risk at all. On the surface, it appears to be smart business by the club without compromising the summer’s transfer budget.
If he passes his medical and completes his move to the Theatre of Dreams, Strakosha will head out to Bangkok to join the rest of his teammates who kicked off the squad’s pre-season tour.
It remains to be seen by all United fans what role Strakosha would play within United. Will he be the number two to De Gea, or will he fall below 36-year-old Tom Heaton in the goalkeeping pecking order?
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