David de Gea
David de Gea came within a whisker of leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid in September 2015Getty

Liverpool legend Graeme Souness believes Manchester United will have a tough task of holding on to David de Gea from the clutches of Real Madrid in the summer. The goalkeeper has long been a transfer target for the Spanish capital club.

The Spain international's move to Santiago Bernabeu was all set, but delay in paperwork stopped him from joining Real on the deadline day of the last summer transfer window. After the collapsed deal, the 25-year-old signed a new four-year deal with the Red Devils that will keep him at Old Trafford until 2019. Real are still believed to be interested in securing the services of De Gea and are reportedly expected to make an approach after the end of the season.

"Only paperwork stopped him going to Real Madrid last summer, and United will face a real challenge holding on to him," Souness told the Sunday Times.

De Gea has been the standout player for Louis van Gaal's side this season as the stopper has helped United collect many points in the league this term. The former Reds midfielder went on to compare the Red Devils goalkeeper to Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal legend Pat Jennings. Souness also went on to suggest the ex-Atletico Madrid man is competing with Germany's World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to be the best keeper in the world.

"David De Gea is my goalkeeper. Once again, he has been Manchester United's key player. When you consider their top league scorer is Anthony Martial with eight goals, it's clear they have won their points at the other end of the pitch. How many has De Gea won?" the Anfield favourite explained.

"Right now, it's between him and Manuel Neuer, of Bayern Munich and Germany, to be the best keeper out there. Some say De Gea is unorthodox, but he prevents the ball from going in the net.

"Like Pat Jennings, who saved so many shots with his legs that it wasn't a fluke, De Gea keeps the ball out by using whatever body part is necessary. Does that make him unorthodox? No. It just makes him a great goalkeeper."