Tom Heaton wants to challenge for a starting role at Manchester United and will not just return there to be a backup, according to a report.
Man Utd have reportedly agreed a deal to sign Heaton as a free agent this summer. The former Burnley goalkeeper is leaving Aston Villa at the end of his contract and will return to where it all began. The 35-year-old previously came through United’s academy ranks without making a senior appearance.
Upon his return, he won’t necessarily be expected to play either. Sergio Romero and Lee Grant, third- and fourth-choice respectively, are both leaving as free agents. It seems United are bringing Heaton in to replace their experience.
But according to Sky Sports, Heaton is eyeing a decent amount of gametime in the knowledge that at least one more keeper will leave United.
David De Gea and Dean Henderson have competed for the number one spot this season. Neither would be happy to be a backup next season, and so one will almost certainly leave.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently opted for De Gea instead of Henderson in the Europa League final. That decision backfired somewhat when the Spaniard failed to save any of Villarreal’s 11 penalties in a sudden death shootout.
Henderson will have been unhappy not to have played, leaving both men considering their futures.
Amid that uncertainty, Heaton sees a chance for himself to push whoever is number one next season. He is ready to make a big effort to convince Solskjaer that their faith in him was justified and that he can even exceed their expectations.
The three-cap former England international will sign a two-year contract at Old Trafford with the option of a third year.
United to stick with Solskjaer
There could be several changes at Man Utd this summer as they look to catch up with the teams they are competing with for trophies.
But one man whose future seems secure is manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite their Europa League final defeat.
Some questions have been asked of Solskjaer following their failure to overcome the La Liga side. But it seems United are going to keep their faith in their former striker.
According to the Telegraph, United will offer Solskjaer a new three-year contract in the summer. His current deal is due to expire at the end of next season.
Negotiations will be overseen by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, despite his own impending exit. Woodward will leave the club at the end of the calendar year, but will still have major influence until then – including on transfers.
United will stick with Solskjaer and back him as they look to take the final few steps they need to get back where they belong.
Some believe they would need a better manager than Solskjaer to do so. But Woodward remains a supporter of the 48-year-old and will put measures in place to keep him in the role long after his own departure.
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