Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is still wanted by Manchester United and is perceived to be ready to move to England if a deal develops.
United’s interest in the Slovenian, who has been in the Spanish capital for seven seasons, has been around for several years and remains despite the club having two high-profile players in David de Gea and Dean Henderson competing for number one.
Henderson is set to take on the role of first-choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season, with his latest appearance against Brighton, and De Gea’s choice in the Europa League victory against Granada on Thursday night, which means a change in the picking order.
United are looking at options to move De Gea further | Pool / Getty Images
But 90min understands that there are doubts within the power corridors in the club about Henderson’s ability to keep number one, as well as concerns about De Gea’s contract compared to his squad status.
De Gea’s revenue of £ 375,000 a week makes him the highest paid goalkeeper in the world, and neither United nor the Spaniard are keen to enter next season as an understudy or cup goalkeeper.
United are open for offers in the summer for the 30-year-old, although potential destinations seem to be limited with most of Europe’s best clubs already set in the goalkeeping department. As we revealed last month, they have considered options to move him further.
Atletico Madrid – the club De Gea joined United from 2011 – is an option he is open to, but it is no secret that he has wanted to move back to his home country for several years. De Gea’s partner lives and works in Spain, and he recently returned home on paternity leave sanctioned by United after the couple’s daughter.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær is one of the few managers with such quality alternatives at his disposal Pool / Getty Images
Any permanent return to Madrid for De Gea would be complicated, to say the least, but an exchange with Oblak – given that there is a willingness on both sides’ sides to move clubs – is at least an option if the clubs want to run it.
United have their own reason for exploring the deal due to the ongoing costs of De Gea’s contract – which runs until 2023 with an option for another year – and know that their options are limited when it comes to potential buyers.
A deal that offers De Gea plus cash – Oblak’s value and position in the game is undoubtedly higher – would be required to make the move happen. United would also need to subsidize some of De Gea’s salaries, but know that Oblak’s contract would be lower and not add much of an extra cost to their current salary cost.
It would solve a problem of moving to its highest server, which is now not guaranteed a starting place, while upgrading the position.
Those close to United have refused to deny interest in Oblak, although 90-minute sources have shown that there is no truth in recent reports that United will agree to release De Gea by paying off his contract.
Most have expected at least one of the two goalkeepers to leave United at the end of the season, with De Gea likely. But moving their salaries will prove to be a challenge and United may need to get creative – hence the opportunity to explore an exchange.
As for Henderson, he has often been tipped to become permanent number one. But internal doubts remain about his long-term ability to fill the role to the same standard as a Peter Schmeichel or Edwin van der Sar – or even De Gea himself in his prime. 90-minute writer Jamie Spencer notes that United have not had a home-grown, regular number one in 70 years.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether United could reach an agreement with Oblak and De Gea across the board, given its complexity and number of moving parts. But the will from all sides would only help the situation.
Dean Henderson has been waiting for his chance and will have it for the rest of the Pool / Getty Images season
Should any transfer take place, Henderson would then be given the opportunity to challenge for his position or push to explore the interest of a transfer – whether on a loan or a permanent deal – to another club. United could raise significant funds for him, with interest high in previous transfer windows.
The goalkeeping department is not one of United’s main targets for strengthening the summer, due to the wide range of options they have, but it is a position they will need to address given the amount of money spent on players in this department alone. – well over £ 500,000 a week in salaries.
Lee Grant, Joel Pereira and Sergio Romero are all out of contract, but long-standing concerns over De Gea and Henderson may force them to look elsewhere.
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