Fine Five: Edwin Van Der Sar's Five Ideal Replacements
With United's new season not off to a flying start, it is time for Sir Alex Ferguson to start planning about making new signings, as his Red Devils have struggled at away games as well as at home.
During the summer transfer window, talks were largely doing the rounds that Sir Alex would be making some new signings to strengthen his midfield, defense, and strike.
But United's troubles under the post will come up as soon as their veteran goalie, the Dutchman Edwin van der Sar, retires.
Van der Sar, who will be 40 at the end of this month, arrived from Fulham in 2005 and has since become a United legend. The twice "Best European Goalkeeper" (1995 and 2009) award winner is still a force to reckon with under the post.
But with the Dutchman making clear that this will be his last season, Sir Alex will have plenty to worry once his experienced top-class goalkeeper retires. With second-choice goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak declaring his plans of leaving for greener pastures and third choice goalie Ben Amos only 20 years old, Sir Alex needs to find an experienced and suitable replacement for his ace goalie.
News are that the Red Devils' manager has already sent his scout to make an inquiry for Danish goalie Anders Lindegaard as they prepare to launch a search for finding Van der Sar's ideal replacement.
In the following slides we will take a look into the five goalies who could ideally replace Van der Sar under the post at Old Trafford from next season.
Dutch Replacement: Maarten Stekelenburg
The 28-year-old Dutchman has already filled his predecessor Van der Sar's shoes quite impressively in the international level for his nation, and it will not be a surprise if he also does the same in the club football circuit.
With already a World Cup final under his belt and enough first-team experience for a top football nation, the Dutch shot-stopper is quite easily the United legend's natural replacement.The Dutchman has good reflexes, impressive positioning skills, and has the ability to keep his calm in pressure situations.
His calm and steady attitude brings along a stability in the defense both for his club and country. He was the most impressive goalkeeper in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Standing tall at 6'6", the 28-year-old Stekelenburg has a good control of the ball in the air, and his height helps him during corners or set pieces.
After replacing Van der Sar at Ajax and then on the Dutch national team, it remains to be seen if Stekelenburg can replace him for the third time at United and fill his boots ably.
Igor Akinfeev: With Love from Russia
The 24-year-old Russian shot-stopper is presently one of the most talented and promising youngsters in football. The CSKA Moscow man is nearing greatness, if not there already.
A brilliant goalkeeper with world-class quality, Akinfeev is a few months away from arriving at a big club. There are very few goalkeepers of his age who carry such confidence.
The 6'1" Russia national team goalkeeper is a gifted goalie and has superb positioning abilities along with impressive shot-stopping skills. Moreover, he has no doubts while making decisions, which adds to his confidence under the post.
Last season in the Champions League, when Manchester United faced CSKA, Akinfeev was the only reason that saved his club the horrors of a goal spree. His superb saves denied United a bigger margin and earned him Sir Alex's appreciations.
He has a good physique and does not worry jumping in front of the striker's feet, which makes him all the better. Moreover, though he is a bit short of ideal goalkeeper height, he makes that up with his other skills and hard work.
The prodigious youngster is presently one of the most sought-after goalkeepers with numerous top European clubs showing their interest in signing him. Though he will cost United a fortune and some tough bidding wars from rival clubs, still the Russian can prove to be a very good bargain for Sir Alex Ferguson.
He has shown ample potential and can very well replace Van der Sar under the post for Red Devils. Whether his club agrees to sell him and whether United can beat its rivals in the bidding war remain to be seen.
Spanish Sensation: David De Gea
The 19-year-old Spanish youngster has been on United's radar.
Last time when United boss Sir Alex skipped his club's match to watch their Champions League opposition Valencia play Atletico Madrid, his eyes were on these promising youngster too. The product of Atletico Madrid's youth system, De Gea has shown plenty of promise in his first year of senior football.
If Sir Alex wishes to make a move for this young goalkeeper, he will have to face competition from the likes of Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, who have also expressed their interest in the Spanish teenager.
But one big question surrounding De Gea is his age. At only 20 years old and with a mere 25 senior-team appearances, will he be experienced enough to wear Van der Sar's goalkeeping gloves?
French Connection: Hugo Lloris
The reigning "Ligue 1 Goalkeeper of the Year" had been extensively linked with a move away from his present club Lyon during the summer transfer window, but no move was made as his club made their intentions clear to not let him go.
The 23-year-old goalie has already become his nation's first-choice goalkeeper, as well as his club's. His lightning-quick reflexes and acrobatic shot-stopping abilities have made him a strong potential suitor for replacing Van der Sar.
He is also very brilliant in one-on-one situations and has ample presence inside the box.
The talented, athletic, and dynamic goalkeeper has ample scope for improvement, and he may crack under extreme pressure. Nonetheless, Lloris has plenty of potential and could well be the ideal solution to Sir Alex's goalkeeping troubles.
It only remains to be seen if Sir Alex picks this promising youngster for replacing his veteran shot-stopper.
Great Dane: Anders Lindegaard
The 26-year-old Danish goalie, who currently plies his trade with Norwegian club Aalesunds, is reportedly on United's radar and seemingly leading the race to take on Edwin van der Sar's empty boots next season.
Manchester United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele has already watched the promising goalie play, and it is reported that United have made preliminary contact with the player's club. The tall and athletic Dane has surprisingly started playing regular top-class football only from last season.
The goalkeeper has been earning high praises for his exploits under the post for his club and was also handed his first international cap last month. He has a good physical presence and impressive goalkeeping instincts.
One of his negative drawbacks may be his lack of top-quality experience. He spent most of his playing career at his former club on the bench and has only started regularly from past season.
United are reportedly in talks already with the player and the club amid growing interest for some other top-notch clubs like Inter and Arsenal. Sir Alex is known for making football superstars from virtually unknown resources, and Lindegaard well might be his parting gift to the club.
Though Sir Alex is confident of the Danish international's potential to make it big, doubts are being raised as to whether it might be a wrong signing and waste of money.