Atletico Madrid will demand the full £109million buyout clause for Jan Oblak amid concerns that Manchester United are preparing to rival Chelsea for the goalkeeper’s signature.
Oblak is unsettled at Atletico and is looking for a bigger, more ambitious challenge with a move to the Premier League at the forefront of his thinking.
The 27-year old, regarded by many as one of the top three goalkeepers in the world, is understood to have grown unhappy at some of the decisions and direction taken by Atletico’s sporting director Andrea Berta.
He is aware that Chelsea would like to sign him but believes Manchester United are also prepared to revive their interest following David de Gea’s drop in form.
United have Dean Henderson chomping at the bit to stake his claim but while the 23-year old is poised to become England’s number one after an excellent season in loan at Sheffield United there are reservations he could still be a little inexperienced to become first choice at Old Trafford.
United’s other major obstacle is where to sell De Gea as there are few clubs willing to pay a substantial fee plus his £360,000 a week wages.
Chelsea want a new goalkeeper despite the fact £71million signing Kepa Arrizabalaga intends to stay and fight for his place.
Ideally they could offset Oblak’s fee by using Kepa as a makeweight but Atletico don’t want to lose face with fans. They know Oblak is a huge favourite and should he leave they want it to be for a world record fee for a keeper.
Chelsea have been bold in their recruitment so far this year with Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner signed and talks taking place with Bayer Leverkusen for Kai Havertz.
They also want to add two defenders and a midfielder but a reliable keeper remains key to Frank Lampard‘a plans.
However, Atletico’s stance on Oblak has prompted them to consider cheaper alternatives such as Marc Andre Ter Stegen at Barcelona, Alphonse Areola of PSG, Andre Onana at Ajax plus Burnley’s Nick Pope and United’s Henderson.
Oblak though is the type of statement signing that would elevate Chelsea’s title credentials or, indeed, those of United. The key now is who is willing to spend the kind of money Atletico Madrid are demanding in the current climate.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand underlined the scale of the dilemma when he discussed De Gea’s mistakes against Chelsea in Sunday’s FA Cup semi final defeat.‘
Who are you going to get that is out there right now? Dean Henderson is a young goalkeeper, it’s a big gamble,’ the former United defender told BT Sport.
‘Who is out there right now that could be bought, that is able to be a world-class goalkeeper at Manchester United? The only one I see is Oblak but can you get him out of Atletico Madrid? If you do, how much would you have to spend?
‘An obscene amount of money. I say, stick with [De Gea]. He’s earned the right to be stuck with.’