Manchester United have reportedly earmarked Everton number one Jordan Pickford as their ideal successor to David de Gea.
The Spain international’s long-term future has been called into question for some time now, and he less than a year left to run on his Old Trafford contract.
Man United can trigger an extension in De Gea’s contract to retain his services until 2024, but the 20-time English champions are reportedly yet to decide whether to keep the 31-year-old around.
A report from The Telegraph – via Metro – even states that the Red Devils are potentially willing to allow De Gea to walk out of the door for nothing next summer, which would save the club a hefty chunk in wages.
De Gea is understood to pocket £350,000 per week at Old Trafford, with only Cristiano Ronaldo earning more, but club chiefs have been left dissatisfied with his early-season performances.
Erik ten Hag is said to be keen to instil a number one that is confident with the ball at his feet and able to play out from the back, and there have been question marks over De Gea’s competence in that department.
As a result, the report claims that Everton shot-stopper Pickford has emerged as a potential transfer target, as the England number one has demonstrated his proficiency in playing the sweeper-keeper role.
Pickford has spent the last five years at Goodison Park after securing a £25m move from Sunderland in 2017, and he has kept 55 clean sheets in 205 games for Everton in that time.
The 28-year-old has also starred for England at the 2018 World Cup and Euro 2020, but Everton are in a precarious position, as his contract is due to expire in 2024.
However, Frank Lampard has confirmed that Everton and Pickford are in talks over a new contract, and he is hopeful that an agreement can be reached “very quickly”.
“The club are speaking with Jordan. He is a massive player for us, everyone wants him to stay and Jordan is very happy here,” Lampard told reporters earlier this month.
“Maybe it is one for the craziness of the window to shut in a couple of weeks and in the cold, calm light of day we can get it done very quickly.”
De Gea has kept 168 clean sheets in 495 outings for Man United in all competitions since being signed from Atletico Madrid in 2011, and the Red Devils have also been linked with a move for current Rojiblancos number one Jan Oblak.
The Slovenia international is also out of contract at the end of the season, and Atletico are said to have a ready-made replacement lined up in the form of Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez.
Ten Hag is currently working with De Gea, Martin Dubravka and Tom Heaton as his senior goalkeeping options, while Dean Henderson will return from his loan spell at Nottingham Forest next summer.