Man Utd identify David de Gea ‘replacement’ as move for Premier League keeper planned

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Manchester United will push to sign a new goalkeeper in the final three weeks of the summer transfer window after increasing their budget for the position. The Red Devils have intensified their search for competition for David de Gea and have identified Premier League goalkeeper Illan Meslier as a potential option.

Lee Grant’s summer retirement and Dean Henderson’s season-long loan switch to Nottingham Forest have left Erik ten Hag short in the goalkeeper department. According to The Athletic, Henderson’s strong comments against United at the start of August prompted Ten Hag to demand a like-for-like replacement.

Tom Heaton was previously seen as De Gea’s deputy, which meant the club searched for a No 3 goalkeeper. But Ten Hag’s insistence that United directly replace Henderson suggests he doesn’t view the 36-year-old as a viable option should his first-choice Spaniard become unavailable.

The report claims United’s goalkeeper budget was initially £1million, but that has since increased to £7m, in line with the Dutch coach’s desires. He is understood to want a goalkeeper capable of challenging De Gea immediately, and if the perfect candidate becomes available, that budget may increase.

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United have made player agents aware of their altered approach this month, with work behind the scenes said to have ‘intensified’ in response to Ten Hag’s decision. And the Red Devils have identified a Premier League stopper as De Gea’s potential long-term successor.

There is genuine interest in Leeds United’s Meslier, and figures within the club believe he has what it takes to take the reins from De Gea, whose current contract expires in 2023. However, the Elland Road outfit have no intention to cash in on the 22-year-old this summer, so United will have to direct their search elsewhere.

Ten Hag could be happy to add a backup option to his squad in the current window if it means United push to sign Meslier at a future opportunity. But if an option with the credentials to challenge De Gea for the No 1 shirt arises in the coming weeks, he would likely take up that opportunity.

There are other options in the Premier League that United could consider. Southampton’s Alex McCarthy is available, while either Martin Dubravka or Karl Darlow could leave Newcastle United after Eddie Howe signed Nick Pope as his new starting stopper earlier this summer. But United have assigned goalkeeper-specialised scouts throughout Europe as they do a thorough scan before boosting their ranks.

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