Welcome to Old Trafford, Manuel Neuer

8 days on from giving his best efforts in their 2-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League semi final tie with Manchester United, Schalke 04’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will step foot inside Old Trafford for the first time this evening.

The German number 1 has been on Sir Alex Ferguson’s shopping list for some time, and last week he went out of his way after the final whistle to have a word with the heroic goalkeeper, presumably in an attempt to help persuade him to sign a goalkeeper with England’s biggest club in the summer.

Neuer’s performance at the Veltins-Arena last Tuesday were reminiscent of a one Peter Schmeichel; starfish saves and all.

The man who took the honours of representing Germany in goal in the summer, following the suicide of Robert Enke and an injury to Rene Adler, did not disappoint. His performances during the summer increased his value, despite having a goal scored against him by Matthew Upson.

This summer Neuer will almost-certainly change clubs, moving away from the team he has been at since he was 5. He has declared that he will not be extending his contract, with his current one due to expire at the end of next season. Schalke 04 will be looking to cash in on their shot stopper, with Bayern Munich the favourites. Munich have kept a tag on Neuer for a few seasons now.

The most-oft winning Bundesliga side have yet to find a long-term replacement for Oliver Kahn since the 2002 World Cup Golden Ball winner lay down his gloves in 2008. Michael Rensing, Hans-Jorg Butt and Thomas Kraft have all been tested, but it appears Manuel Neuer is the long-term solution, despite the hatred between the two sets of supporters.

Neuer is a great shot stopper, who uses both his arms and legs to shot stops, whichever he feels most appropriate (and not the Iker Casillas scared-to-take-a-shot-in-face use of the legs). I once recall him saving a long-range free kick by hoofing the ball away on the half volley as it bounced up in front of him.

The Schalke 04 goalkeeper has made costly mistakes in the past, but in recent seasons he has come good with a number of match-winning performances. His 10 goals against in 11 Champions League games this season may read bad He has good accuracy when throwing the ball out too, and a lengthy throw too, one that will bring back memories of Peter Schmeichel to Manchester United fans.o most onlookers, but this can be explained by the poor defence that plays in front of him. He has been forced into making many saves in this seasons competition, none more evident in their semi final first leg last week.

With Edwin van der Sar’s impending retirement, Manchester United are on the lookout for a replacement goalkeeper. With Tomasz Kuszczak not being talented enough and Sir Alex Ferguson seemingly already having doubts over January signing Anders Lindegaard, Neuer has topped the list of the United manager’s targets.

In the meantime, Manuel Neuer sounds happy to stay in Germany which makes it more-and-more likely that he will reject any potential move to Manchester United in favour of joining the 1999 Champions League runners up Bayern Munich instead. The Bavarian club currently have a 2 point lead over Hannover 96 with 2 games remaining for the final Champions League spot in Germany.

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