Club Focus – Manchester United – Neuer still destined for Bayern and long-term target Defour signs new deal at Standard

With Edwin van der Sar still set for retirement at the end of the season, Manchester United have been linked with a whole host of goalkeepers to replace the Dutchman. One of these names, Manuel Neuer, has pushed himself to the top of every United fan’s wish list after an inspired display against them in Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Schalke 04.

Neuer kept the score down to a respectable margin with a sublime goalkeeping performance and in doing so has won universal praise. Sir Alex Ferguson went out of his way to congratulate the goalkeeper on his display, describing it as: “One of the best performances I’ve seen against Manchester United.” The 25-year-old also received adulation from the goalkeeper widely-regarded as the greatest in United’s history, Peter Schmeichel, who described Neuer as: “The best goalkeeper in the world” and: “absolutely well-suited for Manchester United.” Schmeichel’s praise however will do little to change the mind of either Neuer, or the club.

Neuer has long been expected to join Bayern Munich and despite Bayern President Uli Hoeness stating otherwise on Wednesday afternoon, it is believed a deal is already in place between the two clubs. United’s manager stated after the game that he believed Neuer to Bayern was already a done deal although failed to deny he was interested in the player when asked. In an interview before the game current incumbent van der Sar passed on a question which asked whether he was re-considering his retirement plans before assuring the interviewer that United already have a signing in place. Neuer himself said that there has been no contact between Schalke and the Red Devils regarding a transfer and that only in the media were United an option for him.

The German No 1 appears to have his heart set on Munich and custom would seem to dictate that German national team players stay in the Bundesliga. There is a fear that he could lose his position as the national team’s stopper to Leverkusen’s more likely United target, Rene Adler, were he to leave Germany. However, as discussed in this article previously, United’s first-choice replacement for van der Sar has long been Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea and nothing appears to have changed.

Another longstanding United target, Steven Defour, has signed a new deal at Standard Liege. The midfielder has recently turned 23 and United’s interest in him became known in 2009 when Sir Alex Ferguson wrote him a letter wishing him well following a broken foot. The letter read: “Dear Steven, I heard that you have a serious injury, you will have to work hard to make your comeback, but then I will follow your performances closely. I will certainly keep in contact with Standard, and I hope that your mental strength holds out.” The Belgian signed a contract extension in August 2010 that took his deal to 2015 and has once more agreed to an extra few years in Liege.

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