The prospect of the European champions coming back in for De Gea has hung over Old Trafford for months and, although manager Jose Mourinho has discussed the issue with the number-one and intends to keep him, the club have made significant progress in investigating alternatives.
The Milanese-based duo of Inter’s Samir Handanovic and Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma had previously been looked at, but the 24-year-old Oblak has emerged as the prime candidate.
Joe Hart is also interested in a move, as reported by The Independent last week, but it is understood he has not yet been discussed as a serious option by the United hierarchy and is unlikely to be unless United fail to sign the Slovenian.
Oblak, who has a release clause of €100m, has developed into one of the most respected goalkeepers in Europe, having replaced Thibaut Courtois at Atletico in 2014.
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The interest looks set to perpetuate what could be a summer of tough negotiation between United and the Spanish club, given the additional interest in Antoine Griezmann and Jose Gimenez. Griezmann has been Mourinho’s number-one priority this summer, while United have a long-standing interest in Gimenez, as the Portuguese wants to bring in more ‘warrior’ type players.
The Premier League club have found trying to do a deal for Griezmann is hugely complicated, while Old Trafford sources say the summer’s centre-half signing will be one of Gimenez and Burnley’s Michael Keane. The feeling around the club is that the English centre-half is the likelier arrival, with significant progress having already been made on that deal, and initial terms discussed.
It is set to be another busy summer at Old Trafford, with Mourinho looking to bring in up to five players including one striker along with Griezmann or a similar star.
Wayne Rooney and Matteo Darmian are expected to leave the club, while United will be open to offers for players like Phil Jones and Ashley Young.