It’s a well known fact that newspapers are not exactly the bastions of truth but there are some which have proven to be more reliable than others, The Guardian is one of them. If you can believe what it is reporting, Manchester United is looking for not one but TWO goalkeepers to replace veteran Edwin van der Sar when his imminent retirement is eventually announced. According to a report published on Thursday, United has “provisionally agreed a £3.5m deal to replace Edwin van der Sar with a goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel has flatly described as not good enough to play for the club. Anders Lindegaard, the newly established Danish international, will move to Old Trafford in January but Schmeichel thinks Sir Alex Ferguson is making a serious error bringing in the 26 year old from the Norwegian club Aalesunds FK.
“I don’t believe it for a minute” Schmeichel replied in an interview last week in which he championed Liverpool’s José Reina as the right man to take over from van der Sar if, as expected, the Dutchman retires at the end of the season. Schmeichel who is widely recognised as the greatest goalkeeper in United’s history, was asked whether his compatriot Lindegaard was of sufficient quality to play for England’s biggest club.
“No” he replied. “We are talking about Manchester United here. You can look at talent, you can look at young good players, but you don’t want that, you want someone who can go in straight away and give performances in 80% of the games that the number one choice goalkeeper will play for Manchester United.”
“Too many goalkeepers have been through in and out of the doors at United, and the general perception is, for this team to play well and win trophies, that position has to be filled by someone who is of the very, very highest quality but also the right experience.”
Lindegaard is not the only keeper on Ferguson’s radar however. Spain Under 21 international David De Gea has also come to the attention of United after his impressive performances for Atlético Madrid in La Liga with Ferguson taking goalkeeper coach Eric Steele on a spying mission earlier this season to watch him play against Valencia.
De Gea would be far more expensive than Lindegaard whose low valuation will appeal to United’s owners and it remains possible that United would consider buying both of them. Lindegaard, a boyhood United fan who has cited Schmeichel as his hero, had a distinctly ordinary career until signing for Aalesunds last year initially on loan. He was so impressive he was offered a three year deal and his form since then has enabled him to replace Thomas Sorensen in the Denmark team, winning four caps.
The Guardian first reported United’s interest in Lindegaard early last month after Steele, travelled to Norway to watch him for a fifth time. Steele has reported to Ferguson that Lindegaard would be a reliable candidate to fill the gap left by Van der Sar and is particularly commanding in the air, at 6ft 4in.
The Aalesunds chief executive, Henrik Hoff, and the chairman, Bjarne Haagensen, flew into England today to close the deal and the talks are said to be at an advanced stage. Jim Solbakken, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s agent, has been mediating between the clubs and Ferguson has decided it is worth the gamble despite Lindegaard barely being on his radar during six years at his previous club Odense.
Lindegaard was largely second or third choice in that time and ironically, his decision to look for new employers was based partly on the club signing the former United goalkeeper Roy Carroll.
United’s need for at least one new goalkeeper has become a priority for Ferguson, with Ben Foster sold to Birmingham City in the summer and the manager never being fully convinced by Tomasz Kuszczak who is expected to leave. The club have high hopes for the 20 year old Ben Amos but believe he is far from ready for a run in the first team.
Lindegaard has been told he will initially be cover for Van der Sar but will then get the opportunity to establish himself as United’s number one. That depends on when Van der Sar plans to retire – the Dutchman says he will make a decision in the new year – and whether Ferguson thinks he needs to bring in another goalkeeper.
So here’s how the bottom line is looking right now. A relatively cheap 26 year old may be brought in for the short term while a more expensive 19 year old with a bright future is the long term replacement for van der Sar. Question, where does that leave young Ben Amos? Is he another Ben Foster in the making? Football will always be a cruel game!
Does United NEED two keepers to replace van der Sar?