90min
Manchester United

Man Utd want Jan Oblak despite David de Gea & Dean Henderson battle

Scott Saunders
Jan Oblak is open to leaving Atletico Madrid for the Premier League
Jan Oblak is open to leaving Atletico Madrid for the Premier League / Denis Doyle/Getty Images
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Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak is still wanted by Manchester United, and is understood to be ready to move to England if a deal evolves.

United's interest in the Slovenian, who has been in the Spanish capital for seven seasons, has existed for years, and remains despite the club having two high profile players in David de Gea and Dean Henderson competing for the number one spot.

Henderson is set to assume the role of first choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the season, with his recent appearance against Brighton, and De Gea's selection in the Europa League win over Granada on Thursday night, signifying a shift in the pecking order.

David De Gea
United are looking at options to move De Gea on / Pool/Getty Images

But 90min understands that there are doubts within the corridors of power at the club over Henderson's capability of retaining the number one spot, as well as concerns around De Gea's contract compared to his squad status.

De Gea's £375,000-a-week earnings make him the best paid goalkeeper in the world, and neither United nor the Spaniard are keen on him going into next season as an understudy or cup goalkeeper.

United are open to offers in the summer for the 30-year-old, though potential destinations appear limited with most of Europe's top clubs already set in the goalkeeping department. As we revealed last month, they have been considering options to move him on.

Atletico Madrid - the club De Gea joined United from in 2011 - are an option he is open to, with it being no secret that he has wanted to move back to his homeland for several years. De Gea's partner lives and works in Spain, and he recently returned home on paternity leave sanctioned by United following the birth of the couple's daughter.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dean Henderson
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is one of the few managers with such quality options at his disposal / Pool/Getty Images

Any permanent return to Madrid for De Gea would be complex to say the least, but an exchange with Oblak - given there is will on the sides of both players to move clubs - at least sits as an option if the clubs wish to pursue it.

United have their own reason to explore the deal due to the ongoing cost of De Gea's contract - which runs until 2023 with an option for a further year - and know that their options are limited when it comes to potential buyers.

A deal offering De Gea plus cash - Oblak's value and standing in the game are unquestionably higher - would be required to make the move happen. United would also need to subsidise part of De Gea's wages, though know Oblak's contract would be lower and not add much of an additional cost to their current wage bill.

It would solve a problem of moving on their highest earner, who is now not guaranteed a starting place, while simultaneously upgrading the position.

Those close to United have refused to deny interest in Oblak, though sources have indicated to 90min that there is no truth to recent reports that United will agree to release De Gea by paying off his contract.

Most have expected that at least one of the two goalkeepers concerned will leave United at the season's end, with De Gea most likely. But shifting his wages will prove a challenge and United may have to get creative - hence the option to explore an exchange.

As for Henderson, he has been widely tipped to become permanent number one. But internal doubts remain over his long-term ability to fill the role to the same standards of a Peter Schmeichel or Edwin van der Sar - or even De Gea himself in his prime. 90min writer Jamie Spencer notes that United have not had a home-grown, regular number one in 70 years.

It does of course remain to be seen if United would be able to get a deal involving Oblak and De Gea over the line, given its complexity and number of moving parts. But the willingness on all sides would only help the situation.

Dean Henderson
Dean Henderson has been waiting for his chance, and will have it for the rest of the season / Pool/Getty Images

Should any transfer take place, Henderson would then be given the option to challenge for his position or push to explore interest in a transfer - whether on a loan or permanent deal - to another club. United would be able to raise substantial funds for him, with interest high in previous transfer windows.

The goalkeeping department is not one of United's primary targets for strengthening in the summer, owing to the vast array of options they have, but it is a position they will need to address given the sum of money being spent on players in this department alone - well over £500,000 a week in wages.

Lee Grant, Joel Pereira and Sergio Romero are all out of contract, but lingering concerns over De Gea and Henderson may force them to look elsewhere.


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