Sir Alex Ferguson admits he wanted to sign Manuel Neuer to replace Edwin van der Sar but was persuaded to instead opt for David de Gea.
Plenty of speculation surrounded Ferguson’s search for a new goalkeeper after Van der Sar announced his decision to retire at the end of the 2010/11 season.
United goalkeeper coach Eric Steele had identified Atletico Madrid youngster David de Gea, but Ferguson had been most impressed by Neuer’s emergence at Schalke.
However, the former Red Devils boss concedes he is glad Steele managed to change his mind.
“Eric Steele had been scouting David de Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke. And I think Schalke would’ve been happy if we’d have gone and taken him,” Ferguson said.
“So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take De Gea. I said ‘but Eric, the boy Neuer is the complete unit; he’s mature, his physique is unbelievable’, and he says ‘yeah, but in three years’ time, De Gea will be better’.
“I said ‘that’s a statement’. Eric and I went out to watch him (De Gea) against Valencia away, and the things he’d been speaking about – his agility, his confidence, his speed – were evident.
“And Eric had been building a relationship with his parents, and was so adamant, that I had to trust him – and I’m glad I did, because he was right.”
In the summer of 2011, United paid £20million to sign De Gea from Atletico Madrid, while Neuer left Schalke to join Bayern Munich.
After a shaky start at Old Trafford, De Gea has arguably been the club’s best player over the past two seasons, and is set to be targeted by Real Madrid yet again this summer.