Sir Alex Ferguson chose David De Gea over Manuel Neuer for Man United

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that he originally wanted Manuel Neuer at Manchester United rather than David De Gea.

United were searching for a successor to Edwin van der Sar ahead of his retirement in the summer of 2011, and Sir Alex had then-Schalke goalkeeper Neuer as his No. 1 target.

But the club's goalkeeper coach, Eric Steele, was adamant that De Gea would prove the better long-term signing, and persuaded the United boss to sign the 20-year-old De Gea from Atletico Madrid for £17.8 million instead.

Sir Alex was delighted that he listened to Steele, with De Gea having gone on to impress as United's player of the year for the past two seasons. He was also in the PFA's Premier League team of the year in 2012-13 and 2014-15.

The Spaniard has also arguably been United's best performer this season, having stayed with the club following Real Madrid's failed attempt to sign him over the summer.

Neuer, though, has had an outstanding career himself after moving to Bayern Munich for €22m, winning the Champions League as well as the World Cup with Germany in the past three years.

"Eric Steele had been scouting David De Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke," Ferguson told Sky Sports. "And I think Schalke would have been happy if we'd have gone and taken him.

"So, my problem was Eric because he was adamant that we must take De Gea. I said '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."