David de Gea has been one of the best performers for Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson signed him from Atletico Madrid in 2011 for a fee of £18.9m. The Spanish shot-stopper recently made his 400th appearance for the club in a 2-2 draw against Southampton, surpassing Peter Schmeichel’s record for the leading overseas appearance-maker in any position.
David de Gea has been on top of the game for years now, winning three consecutive Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award from 2014-16, the first player to do so, and a club-record fourth time in 2018. De Gea has been selected for the PFA’s Team of the Year five times and was awarded the Premier League’s Golden Glove for his stellar performances in the 2017/18 campaign, in which he kept 22 clean sheets and conceded only 35 goals in all competitions.
There’s no debate about his quality, his accolades speak for themselves, they bear testament to how he has proved himself again and again as the best man to represent United in between the sticks. The Spaniard has guarded Manchester United for years and the league tables might have looked very different if David hadn’t played the way he has played over the years. However, his recent performances have dropped drastically and blunders have become too common for him.
The 1-3 defeat against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, where he failed to stop a tame shot by Mason Mount, was one of his most recent blunders that is still hard to fathom. The error he made in the 1-1 draw against Spurs after the Premier League season’s restart was disgusting, especially for a keeper of his calibre. Looking at it, Roy Keane said:
“I would be fighting him at half-time, I would be swinging punches at that guy. I am flabbergasted.”
Moreover, there have been similar blunders against Everton and Watford as well and this is just not it. According to a report in The Times, some of the key Manchester United players have reportedly shown concerns over David de Gea’s capabilities and position in the team, as the keeper has not been in top form even during training sessions at Carrington. Some have even said that he is not pushing himself hard enough. All of this has subsequently become a major concern for the 29-year-old and his future at United.
Even though the Spaniard has steered the Red Devils out of dangerous situations on countless occasions, it looks likely that a replacement is the way to go forward for the club. Let’s look at three probable replacements for him in goal, who have been impressive this season.
1. Dean Henderson
The 23-year-old English international is a United loanee currently playing for newly promoted Premier League club Sheffield United. Dean Henderson has been at the centre of attention this season amidst all the “de Gea talks”. Securing 13 clean sheets in 35 appearances, for a team like Sheffield United, where chances of a counter-attack are extremely high because of their high pressing, is all the more impressive. His noteworthy performances have subsequently drawn all the attention from United supporters who could have really used his presence between the sticks this season for United.
A commanding presence in goal, Dean Henderson is a player willing to give his 100 percent for the team and rise to the occasion, as and when required. Having come through the academy, he is well aware of the mentality that a United keeper must possess.
According to Duncan Castles of the Transfer Window podcast (via Tribuna), Henderson feels that he is better than De Gea right now and should be the first choice goalkeeper at Old Trafford. Moreover, the Englishman has clubs like Chelsea seeking him, who are looking to replace Kepa because of his poor run of form.
2. Nick Pope
The 28-year-old Englishman, who plays for Burnley, has had an impressive Premier League season as well, keeping 15 clean sheets in 37 appearances for a mid table team. Due to his performances this season, he can even replace Jordan Pickford in goal for the England national team.
Nevertheless, Nick Pope has caught the attention of many teams this season with his exploits at Burnley, will he be the correct replacement for David de Gea at United? Maybe not? Considering his age (28), United should be looking for someone young and good.
3. Andre Onana
Andre Onana, a La Masia product, is currently plying his trade at Ajax in the Eredivisie and has been a constant starter for the Dutch champions, since joining the club in 2015. Onana has helped Ajax win a domestic double last season and his performances in the Champions League have caught a lot of attention.
Since his debut, he has made 178 first-team appearances for Ajax. He remains extremely calm on the ball in pressure situations and has an even better ball distribution. During an interview with Algemeen Dagblad (via Goal) in May, Onana hinted on a future move as he said:
“Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with Ajax and I am very grateful to the club.”
“It was five great years here, but now my time has come to take a step.”
“I don’t yet know what will happen, but my ambitions and agreements are clear.”
Manchester United do have a fair amount of budget for the upcoming transfer window and are in dire need of a new and young goalkeeper, at least as a backup, if not as a replacement for David de Gea. As the current situation stands, Dean Henderson is the best choice for the Red Devils, but who knows how the transfer window will unfold in the coming days.