Man Utd turn to Aston Villa stand-out whose price tag has exploded to replace superstar in ruthless Ten Hag call

Man Utd pair David de Gea and Harry Maguire

Man Utd are sizing up Emiliano Martinez to potentially oust club legend David de Gea, but a recent deal has emboldened Aston Villa to command an eye-watering fee, per a report.

De Gea, 31, has been one of the world’s premier goalkeepers during his 11-year stint at Old Trafford. The current season marks his 12th as a Red Devil and fresh off his fourth Man Utd Players’ Player of the Season award last year, he remains on top of his game.

However, speculation is beginning to surface that suggests his time as a Red Devil is coming to an end.

The rumours emerged during the summer window when Manchester United began casting their eye over new goalkeepers.

Sky Sports’ Rob Dawson explained why, stating: “David de Gea has started United’s first three games of the season but clearly there are limitations to his ability on the ball.

“The way Erik ten Hag wants to play, he wants a goalkeeper who is comfortable on the ball and playing out from the back.”

United wound up signing Martin Dubravka on loan from Newcastle. However, the Slovakia international has been slotted in as De Gea’s back-up, not replacement.

Regardless, the early signs pointed towards De Gea’s limitations in possession becoming a problem for Ten Hag.

The latest from Italian outlet CalcioMercato revealed De Gea is wanted by Juventus. The Spaniard’s contract expires in 2023, though United do hold an option for a further 12 months.

It was claimed United will do all they can to avoid losing De Gea for nothing. That would suggest they’ll trigger the option, though if he’s not fancied by Ten Hag, a sale could be approved.

Making that decision somewhat easier would be the fact De Gea is one of the club’s top earners, pocketing a reported £350,000-a-week.

Man Utd turn to Emiliano Martinez

Now, Football Insider add to the mounting speculation, and insist United may have found De Gea’s successor.

They report Argentina international and Villa ace, Emiliano Martinez, is in their sights.

The 30-year-old is ‘highly rated’ by United’s recruitment team and is generally considered one of the league’s stand-out keepers.

He’s caught the eye since moving to Aston Villa from Arsenal in 2020 for the bargain sum of an initial £17m.

Martinez only signed a contract extension at Villa park in January. Given Villa are therefore in a strong bargaining position, it’s noted Villa have placed a hefty £45m valuation on Martinez.

That is an eye-watering figure for a goalkeeper already over the age of 30. Furthermore, if Villa did sell at that price, they’d generate just under three times their initial investment.

Axing De Gea would be ruthless… but necessary?

After overcoming struggles in his first season, De Gea’s body of work over the next decade at Old Trafford has been sensational.

At 31, he should still have plenty more years in his prime left too. However, the modern way is for goalkeepers to operate as an extra outfield player when in possession. Ten Hag wants to follow suit and De Gea is well below par with his feet.

Whether Martinez is good enough in possession to warrant ousting De Gea is open to debate. However, the Spaniard’s contract situation may ultimately force United into a decision.

Dean Henderson may yet have a role to play and is under contract until 2025.

Other names tentatively linked are Everton’s Jordan Pickford and Leeds Utd’s Illan Meslier.

If United are serious about backing Ten Hag and the Dutchman wants change, the writing will be on the wall for De Gea sooner rather than later.