Man United monitoring Jan Oblak in case of David De Gea exit - sources
Manchester United have stepped up their interest in Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak amid concerns that David De Gea will push through a summer move to Real Madrid, sources have told ESPN FC.
United manager Jose Mourinho insisted after Wednesday's 0-0 draw at Southampton that De Gea -- who did not travel to St Mary's -- will still be the club's goalkeeper when they begin their preseason preparations against LA Galaxy in California on July 15.
But despite Mourinho's public assertion that De Gea will remain at Old Trafford, concern over the Spaniard's intentions have now prompted United to intensify their monitoring of Oblak, with the club increasing their scouting trips to the Vicente Calderon to watch the 24-year-old.
Oblak has a €100 million escape clause in his Atletico contract -- a figure that would make him the world's most expensive goalkeeper should he leave the Champions League semifinalists.
But with De Gea still having two years remaining on his United contract, which he signed within weeks of the collapse of a move to Real in August 2015, the Old Trafford club will expect a substantial fee from Real should they make another attempt to sign him this summer.
United paid £18.3m to sign De Gea from Atletico as Edwin van der Sar's replacement in the summer of 2011, but with the 26-year-old's long-time girlfriend, the Spanish singer Edurne Garcia Almagro, continuing to live in Madrid, there is an acceptance within the Old Trafford hierarchy that the player will seek to return to the Spanish capital at some point in the near future.
United sources have told ESPN FC that Mourinho's preference is to keep De Gea due to his status as one of the world's top keepers.
But Mourinho is also determined to ensure that he has a world-class replacement ready should Real come in for De Gea, and he has identified Oblak as his No. 1 choice.
United have also watched AC Milan's 18-year-old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, but Oblak's Champions League experience has placed him at the top of Mourinho's list.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_