Neuer Is A Worthy Successor For Van der Sar

Manchester United have lined up Manuel Neuer as the long-term replacement for Old Trafford veteran Edwin van der Sar. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson wants the German, who played a controversial role in England's World Cup exit last summer, to replace the Dutchman. Van der Sar celebrates his 40th birthday at the end of the month and Neuer, 24, has emerged as United's first-choice successor after an extensive search.

Neuer is likely to cost more than the £10million Ferguson wants to spend to prise him away from Bundesliga side Schalke, with the goalkeeper approaching the last year of his contract. But that has not put him or United off and neither has Neuer's role in England's demise in South Africa, when Fabio Capello's side were knocked out in a humiliating 4-1 defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein.

The turning point in that match was a Frank Lampard shot which hit the crossbar and crossed the line, but was not given and the goalkeeper helped to con the referee. "I tried not to react to the referee and just concentrate on what was happening. I realised it was over the line and I think the way I carried on so quickly fooled the referee into thinking it was not over. Then I saw it on the television in the doping control office and saw what actually happened. And, yes, it was over. It should have been a goal for England. Probably about two metres," said Neuer afterwards.

Neuer is an ambitious goalkeeper with a desire to play Champions League football next season and he fears that struggling Schalke, his hometown club where he has spent all of his career, are in danger of not delivering. "I am not comfortable with the current situation at Schalke. I hope we can turn the corner and get back on track. My contract runs until 2012 and I have always made it clear that I would play this season for Schalke. As for the future, we will see. I want to be playing in European competition next year," said Neuer.

United's goalkeeping coach Eric Steele revealed last week that Van der Sar is planning to retire but the experienced stopper will not rule out changing his mind. "I do not yet know whether I will stop or continue after this season. Only in the course of this season will I think about it. For now I keep my focus on United," said Van der Sar.

Ferguson is anxious to recruit a long-term replacement regardless of Van der Sar's plans and the 6ft 4in German is his preferred choice. The United manager will also be encouraged by indications from Neuer that he would prefer a move to Old Trafford rather than switch to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich, who are desperate to sign him.

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