Power Sport Images/Getty Images
Manchester United’s interest in Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak has reportedly intensified amid fears that David De Gea could pursue a move to Real Madrid this summer.
Citing sources at Old Trafford, ESPN FC’s Mark Ogden reported the Red Devils have begun scouting Oblak more frequently as their concerns over De Gea’s future have increased.
United boss Jose Mourinho would prefer to keep the Spaniard in place at United and has said he will still be at the club in pre-season, but Oblak is his top target to replace him should he move to the Spanish capital.
The 24-year-old has a €100 million release clause in his contract with Atleti, making him the most expensive goalkeeper in the world, though his cost would largely be offset by the transfer fee received for De Gea as United will demand a significant sum for him.
Oblak’s performances in recent years have firmly established him among the world’s best goalkeepers.
Football writers Andrew Gaffney and Ryan Baldi believe he would be the outstanding choice to replace De Gea should he leave:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
The only goalkeeper #MUFC should be signing so the loss of De Gea isn’t really noticed is Jan Oblak. Won’t come as cheap as Kaspar or Hart.
5/2/2017, 7:05:26 PM
Ryan Baldi @RyanBaldiFW
Oblak would be the perfect replacement for De Gea; #MUFC should pay whatever it takes to get him.
5/18/2017, 10:16:17 PM
Indeed, the Slovenian is one of the few goalkeepers on a similar level to the Spaniard, and, as such, his arrival to replace De Gea would ensure a smooth transition.
He’s already an experienced campaigner and prior to joining Atletico helped Benfica win a domestic treble in 2014 and reach the UEFA Europa League final, keeping 22 clean sheets in 28 matches in the process.
With Atletli, he has garnered experience at an even higher level and played in last year’s UEFA Champions League final.
Per beIN Sports’ David Cartlidge, while Oblak benefits from having an excellent defensive unit in front of him, he still shines through as a fantastic stopper:
David Cartlidge @davidjaca
@AlexShawESPN It’s really easy to know when you watch them every week. He’s excellent.
4/18/2017, 8:10:43 PM
Oblak is strong and confident in the air, so he should be well-suited to the rigours of Premier League football, and his reflexes and shot-stopping are truly remarkable even for a ‘keeper of his already considerable standing.
Prising him away from Aletico won’t be cheap or easy, but if there’s one player who can ensure De Gea isn’t missed at Old Trafford, it’s Oblak.