KEY POINTS

  • Rio Ferdinand picks Atletico's Oblak as 'only' replacement for De Gea
  • Atletico has labeled Oblak with a release clause of $151 million
  • There have been suggestions to drop De Gea as Man Utd's No. 1 keeper

Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has backed struggling goalkeeper David de Gea, while the former center-back has also mentioned there is only one player at the moment who is good enough to replace De Gea as the club's No. 1 shot-stopper.

De Gea, who has not been in his best touch since soccer’s return after the three-month coronavirus break, was criticized for his blunder that allowed Mason Mount to score in Man Utd’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.

There have been suggestions to replace De Gea with 23-year-old Dean Henderson, who is currently on loan at Sheffield United or sign a new keeper this summer. While Ferdinand has criticized these suggestions, he has also said only Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak is an ideal replacement for De Gea at Old Trafford. But, the Slovenian player will not come for cheap.

"Listen, has David de Gea been making mistakes? Yes, he has made mistakes. Is he low on confidence? Yes, he is low on confidence. But has he got the character to come back? Has he proven his character in years gone by? Yes, he has. When he came to Manchester United he was a 19-year-old and there were question marks straight away over whether he was good enough, is he too slim, is he too frail, he’s not ready to be Man United’s number one goalkeeper. He dispelled all of those things that were being said about him through character, hard work, determination, and – above anything else – quality," Ferdinand in a recent interview, as reported by Metro.UK.

The former Man Utd skipper has also reminded that De Gea, who has been the Player of the Year four out of the last six years, was the only consistent factor during the club’s inconsistency days.

"Yes he’s had a bad time there, a bad spell, confidence is low – but does that mean you go out and get rid of him? ‘Who are you going to get? Tell me who is out there now they’re going to go and get?" added Ferdinand in the same interview.

David de Gea David de Gea put in another impressive performance for Manchester United on Sunday, but continues to be linked with Real Madrid. Photo: Reuters

Ferdinand, who played for the Old Trafford side between 2002 and 2014, has termed making Henderson the new No. 1 as a “big gamble”.

“Dean Henderson is a young goalkeeper… it’s still a big gamble. Who is out there who is actually able to be bought right now, who is going to go in and be a world-class goalkeeper right now at Manchester United? The only one I see is Oblak. But can you get him out of Atletico Madrid? And if you do, how much are you going to have to spend? An obscene amount of money. I say stick with him [De Gea]. He’s earned that right to be stuck with,” Ferdinand said about Oblak, who has been associated with Atletico Madrid since 2014.

After signing a new deal with Atletico Madrid last year, Oblak was slammed with a release clause of $151 million by the Wanda Metropolitano, which is a lot of money considering the current financial crisis the clubs are suffering due to the pandemic.