Manchester United have stepped up their efforts to search for a goalkeeper.
Earlier in the summer, United were linked with Newcastle’s Karl Darlow and Watford’s Daniel Bachmann.
These two trails seem to have gone cold but the club has now renewed its efforts to strengthen the department.
The departures of Dean Henderson and Lee Grant have left David de Gea and Tom Heaton as the only two senior keepers on the books. It is therefore imperative that the club brings in an extra body to avoid being light, but manager Erik ten Hag’s intentions might be much more significant than that.
The Athletic reports that the Red Devils are now looking for a second choice keeper rather than a third and have raised their transfer budget for the position as they look for a player who can also provide genuine competition for De Gea.
“Sources say a cost of £1 million had been assigned originally, but now executives have sanctioned a transfer fee of around £7m,” the outlet says.
“Additionally, Ten Hag would like a goalkeeper that can genuinely challenge De Gea and, if one becomes available, funds could go higher.
“Work behind the scenes has intensified, with agents made aware of the altered approach.”
The salary budget for the role has also been drastically increased to find a “profile that suits Ten Hag’s needs.”
Fans will wonder why a quality keeper like Dean Henderson has been allowed to go on loan, leaving United with the need to spend £7 million or more to replace him. The Athletic merely explains that the De Gea was unlikely to be dislodged and Henderson wouldn’t want to play second fiddle again.
With Heaton “well thought of” by United, the news that the search has been elevated to find someone who could genuinely compete with the Spaniard could suggest that Ten Hag has question marks over his number 1’s form.
Certainly in pre-season De Gea made a number of errors and was far from his imperious best.
With one year remaining on the 31 year old’s very expensive contract, this could be his last season at Old Trafford and a two way battle between Henderson and another hungry young keeper could be in the offing for 2023.
In terms of who that might be, Leeds United’s Illan Meslier is under consideration by the club as a “long-term replacement for De Gea”, the report says, although it is noted that Leeds would have no intention of selling the 22 year old.
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