Petr Cech is the answer for Manchester United if David De Gea bids farewell, says Paul Scholes
David De Gea has been one of those fine Manchester United players who has come of age in one of the most high-pressure positions on the pitch, and now he has established himself as the Premier League's best goalkeeper, the club could well lose him.
De Gea was 20 when he came to Old Trafford, and at the time I was concerned about his suitability to play in goal for United. He looked a little weak, his confidence took some hits early on and it took him a while to get to the stage where he felt comfortable playing for United. The problem is, now he is the finished article, it looks like United will lose him.
That is the issue with signing young players from other big European football nations - at some point they will want to go home. It won't surprise you to hear me say that I don't regard any club as a move upwards after Manchester United, but if you were looking for a par, I would grant you Real Madrid and Barcelona.
It looks like Madrid fancy De Gea, and that he would like the move, too. What a signing he would be, aged only 24. He could be their goalkeeper for the next 10 years, although I would offer a few words of caution about that switch.
It looks to me that Iker Casillas is not yet ready to step down as the No 1 at Madrid, and you could hardly imagine a more successful, well-established goalkeeper than the man who has won everything for club and country. At United, David is the undisputed No 1. He is loved by the supporters and valued by his team-mates. It might not be quite so smooth at Madrid.
If De Gea does go, United should sign Petr Cech. I remember the effect Edwin van der Sar had on the club when he arrived in 2005. United had struggled since Peter Schmeichel to find a really commanding goalkeeper. Fabien Barthez was the closest we got. Edwin came ready-made. He was a Champions League winner, he had four years' Premier League experience with Fulham, and in the end United got six extremely successful years out of him.
Edwin was almost 35 when he joined United. Cech has only just turned 33. He could potentially play another six years for United. There would be no concern about having to give him time to play his way into the position or the demands that the Premier League makes of a goalkeeper new to the country. United won't want to lose De Gea but there is a solution in the offing.
The best goalkeeper I played with at United was Schmeichel. He was a phenomenon in training, never mind on match days. He just never wanted to concede and he would do everything to stop you scoring. As a striker, as I originally was, and then an attacking midfielder, it has always been my aim in life to embarrass goalkeepers; to dominate them, to force them into mistakes. I don't know why anyone would want to be a goalkeeper. It is a hard position to do well.
That means the good ones, you must hang on to. It would be a shame if De Gea was to leave United, because he has the potential to be one of the all-time greats at the club.
l I got a real insight into how golf is supposed to be played alongside Rory McIlroy at the Pro-Am at Wentworth this week. I have to say, I was blown away by Rory's game. It is difficult to put your finger on what makes him so good. He is not a big guy but the power he generates is phenomenal. He exudes calmness at all times and, technically, he just seems flawless. Timing is at the centre of it. Every aspect of his technique seems to blend together perfectly.
There was one hole where his caddie JP Fitzgerald told him that there were two bunkers down the right with about 20 yards between them. J P handed him a five-wood and said to Rory he had enough space to go over the first and stop short of the second. One swish of the club later and Rory had put the ball just where JP told him to. For a very average golfer like me, it was quite astonishing to watch.