Feyenoord manager Arne Slot hopes to keep Justin Bijlow but accepts he may be powerless to prevent the goalkeeper from leaving if Premier League giants Manchester United step up their interest.
In the face of yet another cryptic Tweet from David de Gea – unless the Spaniard’s ‘clown’ emoji was a self-deprecating description of his own performances throughout the final few months of last season – the need for two new goalkeepers at Old Trafford is becoming increasingly apparent.
Presuming De Gea does not return – and for all our criticism of the long-serving number one, Manchester United have handled his situation pretty dreadfully – Andre Onana is unlikely to be the only glovesman arriving at Old Trafford this summer.
Dean Henderson is expected to leave too. So, presuming Onana takes De Gea’s place, then Ten Hag will also need a ‘number two’ to provide competition in reserve.
That, according to Rotterdam-based publication 1908, is where Bijlow comes in. Man United’s interest in the Eredivisie champion is genuine, with Slot accepting that retaining both Bijlow and Lushtarel Gertruida in the face of interest from United and RB Leipzig may be easier said than done.
Manchester United eye Feyenoord goalkeeper Justin Bijlow
“I am aware of how concrete it is,” Slot tells Voetbal Primeur. “But I am not the person to go public with it.
“I assume that they will not leave, because we (would) like to keep our team together. That does not mean that it is not possible for these players to leave. I cannot veto (their moves).
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“How am I going to convince them? It is not so much necessary, because they know what they have here.”
Bijlow will reportedly cost around £20 million. A big sum for a back-up goalkeeper, especially considering the constraints of Man United’s current budget. That may be why United appear to be moving ahead with a couple of affordable alternatives; Fenerbahce’s Altay Bayundir and Urawa Red Diamonds’ wonderfully-named Zion Suzuki.
Slot, meanwhile, is keen to point out that Bijlow – having recently established himself as Ronald Koeman’s first-choice for the Dutch national team – would be better off staying at a club where regular minutes are guaranteed. Euro 2024 now just 12 months away, after all.
“My message to these guys is that they have recently (been called up) to the Dutch national team squad. This is the first time for Lusharel,” Slot adds.
“From what I have learned, Ronald has been quite satisfied (with them). I cannot escape that impression. With those pretensions, it is an advantage to play for Feyenoord.”