After a somewhat rocky start to his Manchester United career, David de Gea has proved himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers over the past ten years. Signed by Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2011, the Spaniard lifted the Premier League title in 2012-13 and has since won the EFL Cup, Europa League, and FA Cup. Despite being a four-time winner of the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award, De Gea’s days at Old Trafford appear numbered.
Dean Henderson’s emergence has given the club’s manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, food for thought in the goalkeeping department. Now aged 30, De Gea has been demoted to the Red Devils’ second-choice goalkeeper following underwhelming displays throughout the 2020-21 campaign. But is it a dip in form or the end of the Spaniard’s top-level career? Well, let’s see if now’s the time for Solskjaer to put all of his faith in Henderson.
Is Now the Right Time to Move on from De Gea?
Few can argue that De Gea hasn’t been the best Premier League goalkeeper of the past decade. The Spaniard is now in his tenth season at Old Trafford, and he’s been named in the Premier League Team of the Year on five separate occasions. Unfortunately, despite his world-class performances, De Gea and Manchester United haven’t won as much as they should have in the post-Ferguson era. Despite that, the 30-year-old has remained focused on the club’s objectives. It’s a testament to his character that he stayed professional after a big-money move to Real Madrid fell through in 2015.
At the time of writing, De Gea has made 337 top-flight appearances and he’s kept 122 clean sheets across those games. Moreover, within that time, he’s only made 14 errors leading to goals, which is a mistake every 24 matches.
In terms of how the two compare, only their 2019-20 seasons are somewhat comparable. Last season, as United secured a fourth-place finish, De Gea kept 13 clean sheets and conceded 36 goals. Henderson, meanwhile, let in 33 goals and kept the same number of clean sheets in a newly-promoted side.
How Do United Solve This Problem?
De Gea is currently on a reported wage of around $480,000 a week, which is a significant salary for any player, let alone a second-choice goalkeeper. On the subject of his goalkeeping conundrum, Solskjaer stated that everyone in the United squad has the “ambition to take your shirt”. Moreover, the Manchester Evening News reports that the Red Devils manager twice wanted to drop De Gea, with the first occasion dating back to November 2020.
While De Gea’s future is currently up in the air, it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll depart Old Trafford. Although the jury is still out on Henderson, his recent performances warrant a sustained run in the first team. In 2020-21, the Englishman’s played the Red Devils’ Europa League matches, and the club are priced at +144 in sports betting at Royal Panda to win the competition. Not only that, but United are also –400 to finish in the top two in the Premier League.
There’s Only Room for One
While every club dream of having a backup goalkeeper of De Gea’s level, it isn’t a sustainable option. With a wage of $480,000 per week, it‘s time for United to assess their options and part ways with the 30-year-old. Henderson is deserving of the opportunity, and retaining the Spaniard presents an obstacle to the Englishman’s development. United have the chance to get back to their roots and show faith in young, homegrown players, which is an opportunity that the club will likely take with both hands.