Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ruthless Ten Hag could axe Man Utd superstar next year, with record-breaker among two big names touted in succession plan

Man Utd pair Bruno Fernandes and David de Gea

Two high profile replacements have been named with Erik ten Hag having final say on whether Man Utd axe David de Gea in 2023, though a report has revealed a humbling way in which the Spaniard could stay.

The Dutch boss has already earned the respect of his Man Utd squad for the way he handled Cristiano Ronaldo’s antics. Ten Hag has taken a firm approach with the Portuguese icon and United’s players are suitably impressed with the man leading their revival.

In rather different circumstances, another Manchester United legend is facing a similarly uncertain future.

The Athletic confirm the worst kept secret in football today – David de Gea is a poor for for Ten Hag’s style.

Ten Hag wants to dominate possession and that requires a goalkeeper who is as good with his feet as he is with his hands.

De Gea is a four-time Man Utd Players’ Player of the Year. His glovework has never been an issue, though his distribution and footwork are another matter entirely.

The Athletic state Ten Hag also wants his stoppers to take up a higher starting position to allow his outfield players to push further up the pitch. De Gea is seemingly reluctant to obey that order.

At 31, De Gea should still have plenty left in the tank, though he may be denied the chance to continue his career at Old Trafford as early as next year.

Ten Hag will decide De Gea future

The Spaniard’s contract expires next summer with Man Utd holding an option for a one-year extension. The report states in lieu of his growing influence, Ten Hag will have the final say on whether the option is triggered.

From the player’s perspective, it’s stated De Gea would gladly continue his career at Old Trafford. What’s more the surprise option of a long-term deal that includes a wage reduction is being considered.

Retaining De Gea would represent United’s most cost-effective option compared with signing a new goalkeeper. De Gea currently earns around £375,000-a-week and there’s a suggestion his salary could be as much as halved in any long-term extension.

However, if De Gea pushes back on that scenario, the report claims United will allow the Spaniard to leave for nothing next summer instead of triggering the 12-month option.

The reasoning there stems from very few clubs actually being capable of signing De Gea given his colossal salary. One less year of De Gea on United’s books would save the club around £19.5m in salary alone.

It’s acknowledged the club overshot their transfer budget last summer, meaning Ten Hag may be working with a slightly reduced war-chest in 2023.

That is something the club will consider when deciding on De Gea’s future, though two high profile replacements are under consideration nonetheless.

Major names in the frame

FC Porto’s Diogo Costa and Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon are in their sights.

Both would adhere to what Ten Hag demands from a goalkeeper, though neither will come cheap.

Costa, 23, recently became the first goalkeeper to save three penalties in a Champions League campaign (excluding shoot-outs).

Costa was recently compared favourably to both Alisson Becker and Thiabut Courtois, though may require a world record fee for a goalkeeper. The current mark was set by Kepa Arrizabalaga (£72m).

Porto want Costa to sign a new deal with all haste, as per O Jogo. His current contract contains a £51m release clause, though Porto would propose that figure be raised in any new deal.

Simon, 23, is expected to be in Spain’s World Cup squad in Qatar – unlike De Gea. Manager Luis Enrique’s last squad saw De Gea overlooked in favour of Simon, David Raya and Robert Sanchez.

Man Utd dealings could aid Tottenham

United’s chief goalkeeping scout, Tony Coton, will embark on an intelligence-gathering exercise over the next two months and report back to Ten Hag. Simon and Costa will be among his top priorities.

United want the goalkeeper they sign – if indeed they do replace De Gea – to be at the club for the next decade. As such, veteran stoppers won’t be targeted and at 23 and 25 respectively, Costa and Simon are the right ages.

Should De Gea be forced out, it’s claimed a return to Atletico Madrid could be on the cards.

Diego Simeone’s side currently contains one of the world’s finest shot stoppers in Jan Oblak, though he’s being linked with replacing Hugo Lloris at Tottenham.

Oblak will turn 30 in January and is likely too old for United’s plan. He’s also limited with his footwork, though that’s not as big of an issue for the counter-attacking Antonio Conte.

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