Belfast Telegraph

Rising star David de Gea can be Manchester United's new Schmeichel

David de Gea is set to conclude his £17.8m move from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United as goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar's replacement after a medical yesterday.

On the day that Sir Alex Ferguson returned from his summer break to supervise preparations for the new campaign, De Gea arrived in Manchester barely 48 hours after helping Spain win the European Under-21 title.

He was ushered into Bridgewater Hospital under a bizarre cloak of secrecy, with blankets held up in an attempt to conceal his identity.

The Scot's recruitment of goalkeepers has not always been the best, with some notable outstanding successes, but plenty of signings who have very quickly fallen by the wayside.

Having failed early on with Jim Leighton and Les Sealey, he recruited Peter Schmeichel from Brondby for £550,000 in 1991 and the Denmark international went on to become one of the club's greatest goalkeepers and certainly the best of the Premier League era.

However, the search for his replacement began in 1996 and did not find someone worthy of being placed in the same bracket as Schmeichel until Van der Sar was recruited from Fulham nine years later.

In that time the likes of Tony Coton, Raimond van der Gouw, Massimo Taibi, Mark Bosnich, Fabien Barthez, Roy Carroll, Ricardo, Tim Howard and Ben Foster were all recruited but failed to deliver the consistency Ferguson was hoping for.

The arrival of David de Gea, aged just 20, adds instant quality with the promise of the realisation of greater potential.

Such is the Spaniard's reputation that compatriot and Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina, who seems likely to face De Gea when the north-west rivals clash at Anfield on October 15, reacted positively to the player's move.

"I very much welcome this news because David is a great keeper," he told La Gaceta.

"When it becomes official he is going to start working to prove in the Premier League what a good goalkeeper he is."

Ferguson's next task may be persuading Luis Nani that he has a future at United following Ashley Young's arrival as another direct competitor. Sources in Portugal continue to insist that Nani now hankers for a move, having become disgruntled at not being a first-choice player.

Nani still insisted during a charitable appearance in Singapore that he is unconcerned by Young's arrival, however.

"Of course I have to welcome everyone they sign, I think Man United is a fantastic club," he said.

"When they bring in new players, they know if it is good for the team or not, and this [the Young signing] has to help them. It is good for the team - we want more players to help us to win trophies."

Nani also said he was determined to keep Young on the substitutes' bench, pointing to his experience in jostling for playing time with Cristiano Ronaldo before his move to Real Madrid.

Javier Hernandez is unlikely to make United's pre-season tour of the United States, despite his extraordinary following in the country last summer.

He is to be granted an extended rest of at least a month following the conclusion of his role for Mexico against the USA in the Gold Cup at the weekend, and may not come into contention for Ferguson until the Community Shield match against Manchester City on August 7.

Hernandez was a key factor as Mexico overturned the Americans' lead in Pasadena to win the Gold Cup final 4-2, at the end of 12 months of virtually constant football for him.

Meanwhile, Celtic's Honduras defender Emilio Izaguirre has insisted that Ferguson made direct contact with the Glasgow club's board to discuss his possible move to Old Trafford.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon insists there has been no approach.

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