David de Gea is one of the main reasons Manchester United are still in the hunt for a place in the top four.
United have faced 112 shots in the league, a total only surpassed by relegation strugglers Norwich City (113), and De Gea has made 86 saves, the most of any Premier League goalkeeper this season.
De Gea is clearly doing a brilliant job but is he the United goalkeeper should be pinning their hopes on for the future? With only 18 months remaining on his contract, it has been reported by 90min that the club are ready to open talks about a new deal.
Despite De Gea’s stellar campaign so far, this could be a huge mistake.
At 31, some people believe De Gea is now in his prime. But the theory that players reach the peak of their powers at a certain age is a myth and the Spanish goalkeeper is testament to that, having produced the best performances of his career between 2014 and 2018.
As an acrobatic shot-stopper, this seemed to be the point in his career where De Gea’s athletic ability and reflexes were at their best.
He’s improved this season having at one point looked as though he’d lost his place in the starting XI to Dean Henderson, but he is still nowhere near the level he was under David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.
Despite De Gea’s shot-stopping ability, United need to get with the times and find themselves a more proactive goalkeeper.
Yes, it’s nice to watch him save shot after shot, but United’s rivals have shown that a goalkeeper should prevent fires rather than constantly having to put them out.
Ederson and Alisson are both perfect examples of sweeper-keepers. They’re always looking to come off their line and clear up danger or challenge forwards.
They also have a command of their area when crosses come in, claiming the ball high or punching it away to stop the opposition from getting a chance.
And their distribution allows their respective sides to easily restart attacks. Can you remember the last time De Gea consistently did any of that?
De Gea’s wages are also an issue. United’s outlay has been out of control as of late and spending £350,000-per-week on a goalkeeper when there are so many other areas of the squad that need addressing seems absurd.
Overall, Henderson looks to be a better long-term option, but if the club feels he’s not up to the level required then there are a number of young goalkeepers who could be available for a reasonable price.
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Robert Sanchez of Brighton recently stated in an interview that De Gea was his idol. Could he be the man to fill his countryman’s boots with him?
Then it comes down to what to do with De Gea. Do you let him leave for free in 18 months or do you look to move him on in the summer if he isn’t in the new manager’s plans?
It’s a discussion that needs to be had for the sake of United’s future.
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