Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville claims that preventing goalkeeper David de Gea from joining Real Madrid would be more important than any big-money signings arriving at Old Trafford this summer.
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Football pundit Neville, who came through the Red Devils’ youth ranks and spent 10 years in the senior squad before joining Everton in 2005, believes Louis van Gaal’s men have a good chance of challenging for the Premier League title next term, but must first retain the services of the Spain international.
He told the Manchester Evening News that de Gea has single-handedly won at least eight matches for United this season, and keeping him away from 10-time European Cup winners Real Madrid would be a bigger summer transfer window deal than attracting the likes of Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels and Real’s own Gareth Bale to the club.
The MEN claims there is still talk of a bid from the La Liga giants.
Neville said: “The biggest thing is David de Gea, and keeping him at this football club.
“He is winning football games on his own. It’s a flippant thing to say but he really has.
“Last minute saves against Everton, Hull, Arsenal away – there’s seven or eight occasions where he has won United games which just shows you that he is world-class.”
De Gea has established himself as one of the leading talents in the Premier League this term, but he has little more than 12 months remaining on his contract and is yet to put pen to paper on an extension.
The 24-year-old made a slow start to life in Manchester after joining in a summer switch from Atletico Madrid, but he grew into the role and is an ever-present in van Gaal’s side, keeping former Barcelona shot-stopper Victor Valdes on the substitutes’ bench.
Should United manage to persuade him to commit his long-term future to the club, it would represent a signal of intent from the Red Devils ahead of next season’s title challenge.