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Three Options: Goalkeepers Manchester United could target if David De Gea did leave

Welcome to Three Options, where we take a look at three different transfer options for a position in the Manchester United starting XI. The rules are simple, each of the transfer options falls under a different criterion. These are:

Option 1: Fantasy Target

This is the dream signing. If money was no object, if contracts didn’t matter, if rivals would sell to us…there are no obstacles!

Option 2: Realistic Target

This is a player who United could likely get; is affordable (or just not overpriced), at a club willing to sell and could be persuaded to join the team. The real-world option that could actually happen, think Victor Lindelof!

Option 3: Wildcard Target

This is the ‘alternative’ choice. A player who may be flying under the radar or isn’t fully developed yet but could step up to the plate and become a superstar if given the chance. Finally, the players can’t already be at United, even if they’re already the best choice there is! So, let’s start at the back and make picks for the No. 1 spot.

Option 1: Fantasy Target – Manuel Neuer

This was difficult because there’s nobody in the world better than David De Gea, except maybe Manuel Neuer…so maybe it wasn’t so difficult after all.

Neuer has lain claim to the best keeper title for the past four or five years at least. Tall, athletic, fearless he has every attribute that you would want from a goalkeeper, plus he’s good with the ball at his feet and has a slight recklessness about him that all great keepers seem to possess. He epitomises the modern goalkeeper and his style of play gave birth to the term ‘sweeper-keeper’ changing the role from just guarding the net to become an active ball playing component in a team’s back line

In comparison to David De Gea, he keeps more clean sheets, concedes less goals makes more saves per goal and is generally stronger (stats-wise) all round. Although playing for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga means that you don’t get tested as much as you would in the Premier League, there is no doubt that Neuer is world class and he does it, not only at club level, but on the international stage as well.

Option 2: Jan Oblak

Pretty easy choice considering that the rumours surrounding him joining the club had been circling for months until the talk De Gea’s move to Real Madrid fizzled and died.

A bit shorter than De Gea (and Manuel Neuer for that matter) Oblak’s strength lies in his reflexes and decision making. An excellent shot-stopper his reactionary saves are athletic and he is quite adept at saving from close range shots and one-on one situations and is almost always aware of what is going on around him, never losing focus.

His stats compare favourably to De Gea’s too. Again, he has more clean sheets, and makes more saves per goal than the Spaniards. Although his distribution accuracy and length are not quite as high as De Gea’s numbers (but only by small margins) and he doesn’t seem to be as adept at catching the ball as De Gea is but that may just be down to not being presented with as many opportunities (and it can be refined). Two years younger than De Gea he would be an acquisition that could pay off dividends at United in terms of longevity and, at 24, his best is yet to come.

Option 3: Jordan Pickford

There were a couple of names that popped up for this option. Jack Butland, Keylor Navas, Joel Pereira, but Jordan Pickford pips them all to the post.

Barely 23 years old, Pickford was thrust into first team action following an injury to Vito Mannone early in the season. He quickly proved himself up to the task with a series of fine displays, showing superb reflexes and great shot stopping abilities. His reactions from close range shots are amazing and he has also shown he is athletic enough to save against long-range efforts too. His decision making is a little iffy and he has made mistakes but, that’s all part of his development.

In terms of stats, Pickford is obviously not putting up numbers as impressive as any of these other keepers but, in one of the worst Premier League teams in recent history you have to expect that. His clean sheets and goals conceded numbers are nowhere near De Gea’s level but he is facing a lot more shots due to Sunderland’s leaky defence, but his saves per goals is higher than De Gea’s and he makes more catches but, again, he is faced with so many more shots, corners, free kicks etc. Interestingly enough, although his distribution is only 50% his average length is the highest of any keeper on this list and he’s won more aerial duels too. Which is impressive as he is only just over 6 foot. I think, behind a decent back line, he could blossom into an amazing keeper.

So, there you have it three choices for replacing De Gea. What would your 3 options be? Let us know in the comments!

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