After watching the German international serve notice of his talent in last night's Champions League semi-final first leg, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson will welcome news that transfer negotiations between Bayern Munich and Schalke concerning the future of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer are yet to formally start.
Neuer, who was outstanding in his side's 2-0 Champions League semi-final fist-leg defeat to Manchester United, is set to leave Schalke this summer, with Bayern the likely destination.
The player himself has long maintained he favoured a move within the Bundelsliga side rather than one abroad.
However, Ferguson, searching for a replacement for the retiring Edwin van der Sar, may have been handed an opportunity of an eleventh hour intervention with Bayern president Uli Hoeness moving today to warn Schalke against trying to profiteer from Neuer’s exposer in this season’s Champions League, tersely stating the Bavarians would be unwilling to pay out an “astronomical sum” for the goalkeeper.
“We want Manuel,” Bayern president Uli Hoeness said.
“When there’s a desire, we can find a solution but Schalke management must now not come up with an astronomical sum.
“Negotiations haven’t started, but they’re imminent.”
Schalke’s sporting director Horst Heldt added further to the level of uncertainty surrounding Neuer’s future, by questioning whether or not the club would be wise to go ahead with the sale.
“His value on the transfer market is already very high, I don’t know if it can still go up,” Heldt said. “But watching this match, I said to myself ‘Why sell such a player?’.”
Bayern remain the clear favourites to sign Neuer, the player even quoted as saying that United “were never an option” but with nothing yet formally agreed Ferguson may be encouraged to make a final attempt to bring him to Old Trafford.
Were it to come to an auction United would be favourites to have more financial resource than Bayern. The player’s preference, however, may present an insurmountable barrier.
United have been linked with an array of goalkeepers this season as Van der Sar’s tenure as Old Trafford’s No 1 nears its end. And last night Ferguson was quick to seek Neuer out and congratulate him on his performance.
In his post match interview, the Scottish manager described the 25-year-old's efforts in goal as "incredible" and "probably the finest display of goalkeeping against us," adding fuel to speculation United have not ruled them out of the race entirely.