Manchester United have confirmed they are close to signing Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David De Gea.
Manager Alex Ferguson has identified the 20-year-old keeper as his preferred successor to the retiring Edwin van der Sar.
“We’ve been working on it [De Gea transfer] for quite a while. We identified him quite a while back as one we should go for,” Ferguson told the club’s official website after Gary Neville’s testimonial.
“He’s a young goalkeeper, very quick, good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for Van der Sar.
“We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organisational ability.
“With David De Gea, he is very similar that way.”
De Gea made 45 appearances for Atletico this season, keeping 24 clean sheets.
He helped the capital club win the Europa League last term, although he is still to win his first senior cap for Spain.
United had been linked with Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer, but the Germany international had made clear his desire to stay in his homeland.
Responding to the news United were closing in on De Gea, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser: “We don’t know anything. Officially neither Manchester (United) or the player at this moment have informed us of anything.
“He (De Gea) knows very well that he can negotiate (with other clubs) but always that they have to pay his buy-out clause.”
Atletico, who finished this season in seventh spot in the Primera Division, had been keen to tie De Gea down to a new contract with his current one running until 2013.
Recently, Madrid-born De Gea, whose contract buy-out clause is reportedly in the region of €25m, said he would make a decision about his future by the end of June.