Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon on Manchester United's radar
De Gea’s contract at Old Trafford expires in June although the club have the option of extending his stay by a further 12 months inserted in his deal.
The 31-year-old has been United’s number one for the last 11 years after being brought to the club by Sir Alex Ferguson from Atletico Madrid.
Aside from Phil Jones, the Spaniard is the only remaining survivor from United’s last Premier League success, which came under the legendary Scotsman nine years ago.
But with De Gea being one of the highest earners at the club and Erik ten Hag having reservations as to whether he can be moulded into the all-action goalkeeper the Dutchman craves, the Spanish international’s future at the Theatre of Dreams is far from certain.
Unai Simon on Manchester United’s radar
Despite making over 500 appearances for the twenty-time league champions and remaining one of the best shot stoppers in the game, Ten Hag wants his goalkeeper to be comfortable in possession and operate the role of sweeper keeper when his defence are squeezing up the pitch.
Neither of those vital characteristics in the former Ajax man’s eyes are De Gea’s strength, but he has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, following the awful afternoon he endured at Brentford, which resulted in Ten Hag abandoning his passing out from the back strategy.
It says a lot that it would be deemed a surprise to see De Gea’s name included in Spain’s World Cup squad by Luis Enrique.
Brenftord and Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeepers David Raya and Robert Sanchez are seemingly ahead of De Gea in Enrique’s eye.
But it’s Simon who is Enrique’s number one and De Gea hasn’t featured for his country since the 25-year-old made his senior debut for La Furia Roja in November 2020. De Gea’s last appearance for Spain came two years ago.
Alongside Porto’s Diogo Costa, who was heralded by fellow Portugal international Diogo Dalot for yet another Champions League masterclass last night, Simon is another goalkeeper on United’s list, who ‘matches the Ten Hag copybook’, according to The Athletic.
Simon, who has been capped 27 times by Spain, has made 139 appearances for Bilbao from which he has registered 43 clean sheets.
His contract at Sam Mames expires in 2025, and with De Gea likely to be watching the World Cup in Qatar from home, Ten Hag could have eyes fixed on how Costa and Simon perform.
De Gea has been ousted by Simon once in his career already – United’s current number one will be hoping lightning doesn’t strike twice, but that decision lies with Ten Hag.