What to do with Edwin van der Sar?

Edwin Van der Sar wants the chance to earn another year’s contract at Old Trafford. Last season looked as though it would be the Dutch stopper’s final one at Manchester United, with his contract due to expire in the summer and his wife, Annemarie, seriously ill in Holland. Thankfully, Annemarie recovered from her brain haemorrhage, and Van der Sar arranged a one-year extension to his reported £90k per week contract.

According to the Daily Mirror, Van der Sar has a clause in his contract in which he is entitled to an extension to his contract if he makes 30 appearances or more this season. This is his sixth season at United, and in the previous five he has played more than thirty games in each. Last season, Sir Alex Ferguson gave opportunities to both Ben Foster and Thomas Kuszczak but neither managed to put in consistent commanding performances, so much so that Ferguson was happy to let Foster – who he had high hopes for – leave for Birmingham.

In his ideal world, Ferguson would have kept Foster, and eased him into the role at Old Trafford, but he was willing to accept that Foster wanted the first team football that he couldn’t yet promise, and allowed him to head to St Andrews. Foster simply wasn’t as good as Van der Sar last season, and the Dutchman remains easily United’s best keeper.

Tomasz Kuszczak is a good back-up – a precious commodity in a squad – and has performed admirably when called upon, but whether he is capable of becoming United’s number one is still very much up for debate. Ben Amos looks as though he has a lot of talent, but 19 is still too soon to know how a player’s career will pan out, particularly for goalkeepers. Neither of these two can touch Van der Sar when it comes down the cold facts. In the big games, Edwin will be playing, no doubt.

Often it can be difficult when successful players start getting on, and Van der Sar turns 40 next month. There is often a sense of loyalty ruling common sense, and players can end up playing for longer than they should. This is not yet the case in regards to Van der Sar; he is still one of the best keepers around, and there is no real sign of this changing. He is still in great physical shape and obviously has the desire to continue.

Van der Sar will not go on and on, but he is entitled to try and earn his contract extension. During his time at Old Trafford he has been a loyal servant, and an integral part of the success that United have achieved over the last five years. Ferguson will almost certainly have briefed his vast scouting system to hunt for Van der Sar’s successor. At 28, Kuszczak should be approaching his peak over the next couple of years, and seems content to stay at Old Trafford to try to eventually earn his place in the team. United though, will have higher standards, and should be pursuing the best in the world, which Kuszczak is not.

Calling Van der Sar ‘the best that United have got’ sounds like as though it undervalues his worth and ability, but he is still United’s number one. He is still an excellent goalkeeper regardless of his age. If he carries on his form this season, then he is fully entitled to be offered a longer deal, while his employers find his long-term successor.

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