After years of fears that Real Madrid would swoop in for David de Gea, Los Blancos’ signing of Thibaut Courtois made many Manchester United fans breathe a sigh of relief this summer.

The next step was for him to sign a new contract, but it is a sign of the club’s lack of direction under Jose Mourinho and Ed Woodward that the Spaniard does not want to commit his long-term future to the club.

That’s created a worrying situation where United are, just as they did in 2015, facing the prospect of losing de Gea for a knockdown fee.

Replacing de Gea with a goalkeeper of similar calibre is a tough ask, but the most recent target does not come close to fitting the bill…

What’s the story?

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According to the Sun, Brighton’s Australian international Mat Ryan is the preferred target to replace de Gea in the event that he does leave.

The report says that Juventus and Paris Saint Germain are at the front of the queue of clubs wanting to take de Gea, who is willing to let his contract run down.

The powers that be at Old Trafford believe Ryan is ready to take the step up to the top six, but we’re not so sure…

Better quality is needed

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The prospect of losing de Gea for little or nothing is what has likely pushed United to explore options slightly off the beaten track, but they cannot afford to scrimp on their de Gea replacement.

De Gea is one of few world-class talents at the club and has saved United on an almost weekly basis since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

Losing him would be a body blow, but gambling on Ryan to make the step up, dealing with the expectations at the biggest club in the world as well as filling the gloves of the world’s best goalkeeper would be incredibly foolish.

Liverpool and Chelsea have blown the market for goalkeepers out of the water. But in 2017, United spent £75m on Romelu Lukaku to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who brought in no income from a transfer fee.

Woodward must not be scared to make a similar investment in the likes of Jan Oblak if de Gea goes. Ryan simply isn’t ready and signing him would be a new level of transfer incompetence at Old Trafford.