When goalkeeper David De Gea arrived a fresh-faced teenager in 2011, he was relatively unknown to the world but was Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor for the retired Edwin Van Der Sar and tipped to be the next Manchester United great between the sticks. Eight years later and he could be leaving the Red Devils next summer amidst interest from Juventus.
It is widely thought that David de Gea has been enduring a bit of a rough spell for a while with Manchester United.
The once-dominant goalkeeper appears to have temporarily lost his magic touch which coupled with increasing uncertainty around his contract has led to intense speculation about his future. However, for De Gea, moving away from Old Trafford should not even be an option.
His recent form is incredibly similar to De Gea’s first season with United. At first, it looked like Alex Ferguson had made the wrong choice after a shaky first season that saw the new United goalkeeper labelled as a flop. It was so bad Fergie even considered bringing Van Der Sar out of retirement.
The young Spaniard slowly grew into the shirt and became a worthy Manchester United stopper and went on to win four consecutive club player of the year awards.
Manchester United helped make De Gea into that shot-stopping machine and that talent is still there to see, it has just been lost somewhere along the way. United found it first time around, and they can do it again.
After the Red Devils had worked their magic, De Gea became one of the fans favourite players. Even supporters of rival clubs could do nothing but congratulate the Spaniard for one unbelievable save after another.
A bad World Cup campaign last year translated into the season that followed as he had his worst season in a United shirt.
His seven clean sheets and 54 goals conceded would have overshadowed his 122 saves made last season. His save percentage of 69.32% did not help either (via Premier League).
It was by far the most saves he had made in a season his whole career but surprisingly also the most he had conceded between the sticks and the fewest number clean sheets kept in a United shirt. His save percentage was also the worst of his career.
Even when United finished in 7th place in 2013/14, he didn’t have it this bad.
The fact that De Gea made more saves last season than he has ever made in a single season attests to the fact that United’s defence last was beyond woeful. It is perhaps this trend that saw the club cough out huge sums on players like Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Last season, De Gea did have some good games with one away at Wembley against Tottenham where he made 11 saves but performances like that were few and far between for Manchester United.
Even on the national stage, he no longer has the trust of his manager who has started him only once in Spain’s last five matches, preferring Chelsea’s Kepa Arizzabalaga to him.
A dip in form has clearly become an evident total loss of confidence for the United keeper.
In the current season, that loss of confidence continued after he failed to save at his near post from a Patrick Van Aanholt strike that cost them a point against Crystal Palace.
United’s defence has looked more stable than last season which means anything De Gea does in goal will be under the microscope more because teams will not create as many chances against Manchester United as they did last summer.
Distractions could also be seen as a factor in his form as well with his contract situation yet to be resolved.
Why De Gea would be wrong to leave
The goalkeeper might be thinking about the next step which is only logical when you consider how long he has been at the club along with the success and reputation he has attained as well in the process.
Firstly, why would De Gea want to give up that relationship with fans? United supporters love him and rivals can’t stand how highly they rate him. He has the kind of influence which most players can only hope of having. It’s no wonder he became the first-ever United player to win their player of the season award for four years in succession. Very impressive considering he’s a goalkeeper.
Leaving the club to join another European powerhouse would mean De Gea would have to forge a new relationship with supporters – and that doesn’t always go well. Take Thibaut Courtois for example – the Belgian was supposed to be a dominant force when he left Chelsea for Real Madrid but quickly became the poster boy for arguably the worst period in the club’s history.
Is that a risk that De Gea should take? No way.
It’s clear that his heart is still in Manchester. He has spoken (via The Telegraph) about his desire to captain the Red Devils going forward – so it’s clear he is thinking about a future with United. He wants to stay at Old Trafford and United want him to stay. This should all be easier than it is proving to be.
Also, if he were to leave United, where would he even go? None of Real, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona need him. Paris Saint-Germain recently signed Keylor Navas. Is Juventus the only option?
Yes, perhaps the Serie A side would be open to replacing Wojciech Szczesny, but they don’t really need to. The Polish international has fought off competition from both Gianluigi Buffon and Mattia Perin, and he could easily keep an underperforming De Gea out of the team.
Even if one of these clubs wants the 28-year-old’s signature, it will be in a part-exchange deal which might be like for like. And that won’t make sense for De Gea or Manchester United.
It will be difficult for these keepers who challenge for the title regularly and play regular Champions League football to make the move to United in their current state and this alone is a hindrance to De Gea’s desire to leave.
The United shot-stopper should make the best decision at this time which is staying at the club.
He is a cult hero at the club due to the huge saves he has made and the manner which he has made them. The fans love him and are backing him no matter what.
Furthermore, his performance against the Faroe Islands in Spain’s Euro qualifiers headlined with a trademark save showed the United man still has it in him but is just going through a rough patch.
Moving forward, De Gea needs to keep his head down and start making things right at Manchester United before he tarnishes his golden legacy at the club.