Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Erik ten Hag forces Man Utd to change goalkeeper transfer strategy, raising budget and identifying Illan Meslier as target

Illan Meslier during a Leeds United warm up

Manchester United have increased their budget to buy a new goalkeeper this summer, according to a report that names Illan Meslier as one option they admire.

Earlier in the transfer window, Manchester United granted Dean Henderson his wish of leaving for more gametime elsewhere. He completed a loan move to Nottingham Forest, leaving David De Gea as the undisputed number one at Old Trafford.

Behind De Gea in the pecking order, there is former Burnley and Aston Villa veteran, Tom Heaton. However, an additional goalkeeper could yet arrive to account for the exits of Henderson and Lee Grant.

But in that regard, their plans have been changing. According to The Athletic, Erik ten Hag now wants to sign someone to rank in between De Gea and Heaton in the pecking order, despite previously planning to have the latter as the main deputy with another option below him.

Furthermore, Manchester United chiefs have raised their budget for finding a new backup goalkeeper from £1million to £7million. If they deem the target they pursue to be capable of eventually succeeding De Gea, they could increase that allocation of funds further.

Accordingly, they have also upped their wage limit for a new keeper. After initially setting aside £35,000 per week for a newcomer, they are now willing to invest more.

Interestingly, The Athletic claim the change of plan has resulted from Henderson’s recent interview about his departure from the club. The England international criticised the club for not keeping their promise of making him number one.

In turn, Ten Hag has understood the strength of Henderson’s character and wants to sign someone similar, as opposed to merely promoting Heaton one place up the chain. What’s more, certain agents have been informed of the change in plan.

So, who could United turn to? According to The Athletic, one goalkeeper they admire elsewhere in the Premier League is Leeds United’s Illan Meslier.

The Frenchman has been Leeds’ first-choice goalkeeper for both of their seasons back in the Premier League so far. Still only 22, he has been identified as someone who could succeed De Gea in the long run at Old Trafford.

Illan Meslier likely beyond Man Utd budget amid alternative suggestions

However, the report notes that Leeds are unlikely to sell Meslier this summer. He is still under contract with them until 2026.

And although the Whites have added another keeper to their ranks in the shape of Joel Robles this summer, they are unlikely to sanction the sale of their first-choice shot-stopper with only a few weeks of the transfer window remaining.

It will be interesting to see if anything develops on the Man Utd front in future windows. If they do pursue Meslier, it is likely they would have to spend more than £7million to get him.

Leeds already invested a fee supposedly worth £5million in him back in 2020. He has become more prominent at a higher level since, so his market value should have increased.

Therefore, Man Utd may have to keep other options in mind. The report notes that Southampton could sell Alex McCarthy, while either of Martin Dubravka or Karl Darlow could leave Newcastle.

Watford’s Daniel Bachmann was also targeted by the Red Devils earlier in the transfer window. But that trail seems to have gone cold.

Whoever it may be, Ten Hag wants someone better with the ball at their feet than De Gea. Goalkeeping scouts are now working to find the right solution before the window closes on September 1.

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