The debate about the best goalkeeper in the world currently involves Manuel Neuer and David de Gea. While the latter has become the saviour at Old Tafford, it could well have been Neuer in his stead, pulling off the stops and saves for Manchester United.

Manuel Neuer has lifted both the Champions League with Bayern Munich and the World Cup with the German national team. He is widely considered the best young goalkeeper in football today, as the likes of Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas reach the end of their illustrious careers.

While the German keeper has become a mainstay for Bayern, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson recently revealed that he could well have been playing for the Red Devils instead of De Gea. Ferguson claims that he chose De Gea over Neuer back when the latter was still playing for Schalke.

“Eric Steele had been scouting David de Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke. And I think Schalke would’ve been happy if we’d have gone and taken him,” Sir Alex said, according to goal.com.

“So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take De Gea. I said ‘but Eric, the boy Neuer is the complete unit; he’s mature, his physique is unbelievable’, and he says ‘yeah, but in three years’ time, De Gea will be better’.

 “I said ‘that’s a statement’.”

After that Ferguson just needed to watch De Gea play in one match for Atletico Madrid to be convinced of his scout’s word and choose the Spaniard as the goalkeeper for Manchester United.

The biggest transfers of 2011

Back in 2011, nobody could have predicted just how good David de Gea and Manuel Neuer would go on to become. While the talent of the young players was never in doubt, just how much of it could be properly channeled and developed remained a big uncertainty. However that didn’t stop the big clubs from swooping in and signing them.

The German moved from Schalke to Bayern Munich for the second highest transfer fee ever paid for a goalkeeper, while the Spaniard moved from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United for the highest fee paid by a British club for a goalkeeper. Both De Gea and Neuer have more than repaid the faith shown in them, and will likely remain two of the biggest names in world football for years to come.

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