Man United hopeful that Scholes will stay on

LONDON - Manchester United remain hopeful Paul Scholes will play on for another year but it would be no surprise if he were to retire after the Champions League Final, chief executive David Gill said on Sunday.

Scholes, 36, helped United clinch their 19th Premier League title on Saturday, coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Blackburn Rovers that took them over the line.

The champions already know they will need a new goalkeeper, with Edwin van der Sar to retire at the end of the current campaign, and the new season may mark the start of the post-Scholes era too.

"We don't know what Paul Scholes is going to do," Gill said in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live. "He may decide he'd like to retire at the end of this season, though we're very much prepared and happy to offer him a further year."

Clearly, the priority at United is to find a top class replacement for Van der Sar, a fact highlighted by the nervous performance of Tomasz Kuszczak as he stood in for the Dutch keeper against Blackburn.

Names such as Manuel Neuer of Schalke 04, David de Gea of Atletico Madrid and Maarten Stekelenburg of Ajax Amsterdam have been discussed by the media and while Gill refused to comment on that speculation he said he was confident the club would land their unidentified top target.

"Edwin has had a fantastic career and has been absolutely brilliant this year," Gill said.

"We know the keeper we want and we're in a good situation with that. That will progress at the end of the season. We've made the decision and I'm sure we can get the deal done.

"Obviously there's been a lot of speculation and we've been associated with all the top goalkeepers over the past six to 12 months. But we've known who we've wanted for many months and we aim to achieve that."

United will cap their 12th Premier League title win under Sir Alex Ferguson with the club's fourth European Cup triumph if they beat Barcelona in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 28.

While the season has been hugely successful, the club will certainly look to strengthen in other areas of the playing staff as Ferguson gears up for another season.

"Without doubt there's going to be some activity in key areas of the club," Gill said. "But it's not as if we're starting work on that now. We've been preparing for that for the last 12 months.

"We'll get on with it and see in the summer what we achieve, which will hopefully ensure that Alex has the players he needs to push on and have another successful season."