Manchester United will seal a £3.5 million deal for Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in the next few days, with the player moving to Old Trafford in January, according to reports today. Lindegaard, currently on the books of Norwegian Tippeligaen outfit Aalesunds FK, is the first of two possible goalkeeping acquisitions before next summer.
United expect Edwin van der Sar to retire and number two Tomasz Kuszazck is likely to leave the club, with first team opportunities limited.
Aalesunds’ representatives were seen at Old Trafford today, although United ceo David Gill was absent at a Football Association board meeting in London. However, with the Norwegian club keen to push through a deal, formalities might conclude before the weekend. Last night Lindegaard appeared to bid farewell to his colleagues.
“I don’t know if I have played my last match for Aalesund,” Lindegaard told Sporten.dk.
“My plan is to move on now. You have got to be a very good goalkeeper to get sold these days.”
Lindegaard, 26, has just appeared in just under 100 professional games in a less than stellar career to date. However, the Dane has made astonishing progress over the past year. Having been used mainly as a back-up for the first six seasons as a pro, Lindegaard looked to be drifting out of the professional game.
Indeed, the ‘keeper was originally offered to Aalesunds on trial, and after impressing during an 18-game loan spell from Danish side OB Odense, he permanently signed for the Western Norwegian outfit. Somewhat ironically, former Red Roy Carroll’s arrival at OB signalled Lindegaard’s departure.
Aalesunds finished 4th in the Tippeligaen last season and won the Norwegian cup for the first time in the club’s short history in 2009.
Tor-Kristian Karlsen, the football consultant and scout familiar to many on social-networking site Twitter, described the player as a “good old fashion goalkeeper, nothing flash, not really a great footballer but suits English football.”
He is a “punt for first choice, more than adequate for second or third and it won’t have been an expensive deal,” he added.
Glowing reports of Lindegaard’s performances earned the 6’4″ stopper a first call-up to the national team this season, making his international début for Denmark in September, which has now extended to four caps. Lindegaard kept a clean sheet in last night’s friendly international match against the Czech Republic, which ended 0-0.
Despite Lindegaard’s growing stature it is not thought he will be the only goalkeeping acqusition at Old Trafford, as United seek to minimise the disruption when van der Sar quits in June 2011.
Mindful of the botched attempt to replace Peter Schmeichel in 1999, United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele has watched Lindegaard on no less than five occasions this season together with a raft of other talent throughout Europe.
When Schmeichel semi-retired to the sunnier climes of Portugal after the 1999 Champions League final, the club embarked on a road of mediocrity, signing at least seven ‘first choice’ goalkeepers – and others – before eventually settling on van der Sar in summer 2005. It came six years too late.
Indeed, United has watched David de Gea, Manuel Neuer, Hugo Lloris and Igor Akinfeev in particular over the past year. Few supporters would have picked out Lindegaard though, essentially a journeyman stopper for the best part of an underwhelming career.
However, United is also rumoured to be on the brink of signing David de Gea, the brilliant Spain Under-21 international, from Atlético Madrid in a deal worth €17.5 million. Madrid-based sports ‘paper Marca today said the only remaining issue is whether the 20-year-old joins United is January or next summer.
This view was dismissed by Atlético president Enrique Cerezo today, with the Spanish side notoriously hard-nosed about transfer negotiations.
“Nobody has talked to us. Nor do I have a clue about this matter,” Cerezo claimed.
“We hope that David de Gea remains an Atlético Madrid player for a very long time.”
de Gea started last season as Atléti’s third choice but injuries and form forced the youngster into the spotlight during a run to the Europa League final. Such were the Madrid-born player’s performances that he made Spain’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad last summer, eventually losing out to more experienced rivals.