David De Gea
David De Gea moved to Manchester United from Atletico Madrid in 2011Getty

Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he was keen on signing Manuel Neuer over David de Gea as Edwin van der Sar's successor at Old Trafford in 2011 but it was the former Red Devils goalkeeping coach Eric Steele who convinced him to land the Spaniard over Neuer.

De Gea was with Atletico Madrid, while the German international was plying his trade with Schalke. Van der Sar confirmed his decision to hang his boots in February 2011 and United were in the market looking for a replacement for the Dutchman.

Steele was closely monitoring the former Atletico man when he was with the La Liga outfit, while Ferguson was convinced that Neuer can replace Van der Sar at Old Trafford. However, it was Steele who convinced the United manager to make an approach for De Gea over Germany's World Cup-winning goalkeeper. Neuer left Schalke and joined Bayern Munich in 2011, while De Gea made a switch to England at the age of 20.

"Eric Steele had been scouting David de Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke. And I think Schalke would've been happy if we'd have gone and taken him," the Manchester Evening News quoted Ferguson as saying.

"So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take De Gea. I said 'but Eric, the boy Neuer is the complete unit; he's mature, his physique is unbelievable', and he says 'yeah, but in three years' time, De Gea will be better.' I said 'that's a statement.'

"Eric and I went out to watch him (De Gea) against Valencia away, and the things he'd been speaking about — his agility, his confidence, his speed — were evident.

"And Eric had been building a relationship with his parents, and was so adamant, that I had to trust him — and I'm glad I did, because he was right."