Neville says Manchester United 'keeper is 'up there with Schmeichel'

David De Gea has to be tied up on a long-term contract to stop any possibility of a move to Real Madrid, says the former United favourite.

Former Manchester United player Phil Neville discussed David De Gea's future on the club's website this week, according to quotes in the Mail, and the 38-year-old was anxious about what would come of the Spanish star this summer.

Champions League holders Real Madrid made a difficult semi-final first leg start in Turin on Tuesday, losing 2-1 to Juventus with one or two nervy moments from Spanish veteran Iker Casillas. It came just as Neville was outlining what he dreads happening at his old club in the close season.

Spanish giants Real are said to be continuing to keep tabs on Manchester United's David De Gea as a replacement for Casillas, according to reports in recent weeks like those in the Mirror, a rumour that won't go away with the player's contract due to expire in 2016.

"My biggest fear in the summer is David de Gea," Neville is quoted as saying by the Mail. "I want him tied up on a long-term contract.

"He is the best developer I have seen for a number of years. From when he first signed to where he is now, the improvement he has shown has been nothing short of incredible."

The former England defender, who never played with the Spaniard but was assistant manager at Old Trafford last season, didn't leave much doubt with regards to how highly he rated the 24-year-old, comparing the former Atletico Madrid star to a pair of United legends regarded as two of the best goalkeepers of all time.

"He is the best around," Neville added. "He has won Manchester United games, he is up there with Edwin van der Sar and Peter Schmeichel in terms of winning games."

United are reported to have offered a bumper new contract to their 'keeper, with the hopes of warding off Real for good, but until he signs on the dotted line, Neville's concern of a De Gea departure is likely to be something shared by plenty other Old Trafford fans.

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