Sir Alex Ferguson has stepped up his efforts to recruit a long term replacement for Edwin van der Sar by bidding £15 million to land Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. The Manchester United manager will have the 23 year old assessed when his club play Bordeaux on Saturday after identifying the young France World Cup keeper as one of the best in Europe.
Ferguson has been consulting goalkeeping coach Eric Steele about a replacement for Van der Sar and is expected to try and tie up a deal with Lyon before the World Cup. The French club are unwilling to negotiate until they have played their Champions League semi final against Bayern Munich who are looking to sign United’s other target Manuel Neuer from Schalke.
CSKA Moscow’s Igor Akinfeev and Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea have also caught Ferguson’s eye but Lloris has emerged as one of the most consistent performers in Europe over the last 18 months. United considered offering wayward Brazil midfielder Anderson in part exchange for Lloris in January.
One of the obstacles could be Manchester City’s Italian manager Roberto Mancini being tempted to make a move for Juventus’ Azzurri keeper Gianluigi Buffon. Lloris is also on Juve’s radar who despite public denials are believed to be prepared to sell the ageing Buffon to City in order to fund a move for Lloris.
Buffon has come in for criticism during a disappointing season for the Serie A giants and should Juventus off load him to City they could then go to Lyon armed with cash from his transfer. Mancini is a great admirer of Buffon who considers him to be the best goalkeeper of his generation but he must also decide whether it is worth splashing out on the 32 year old when he already has a consistent performer in Shay Given.
While Ferguson is looking to bring in a replacement for Van der Sar, 21 year old German reserve team keeper Ron Robert Zieler is hoping to kick start his career back home with a trial at Hannover. He joined the Red Devils from Cologne in 2005 and signed a professional deal three years later but has never made a first team appearance for United so he has now returned to Germany with his contract expiring in the summer.
The young keeper broke his arm in a reserves match against Newcastle United in March last year and missed the rest of the season before returning to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side at the start of the 2009-10 campaign. Zieler told German newspaper Bild “I came to Hannover hoping that I can manage to stay here. The club offered me the chance to have a trial and I’m thankful because it’s not easy for people to watch me playing for the reserves in England” he admitted “but if everything goes well I might have the opportunity to stay on”
Will Lloris be a better choice to replace van der Sar than the more experienced Buffon?