Just What Has Happened To David de Gea? United Keeper Under Scrutiny Again

By Ian John
May 8, 2023

It can be a hard life being a goalkeeper. Just ask Manchester United star David de Gea after his latest high-profile gaffe led to the Red Devils tumbling to a 1-0 defeat at West Ham United on Sunday.

The Spaniard allowed Said Benrahma’s half-hit shot to bobble over his outstretched hand and into the back of the net to hand the Hammers the lead, which would prove to be enough, ultimately, for the win.

It is the latest in a long-line of goalkeeping gaffes that have cost United dearly over the last few years and which have now called into question whether United will offer the Spaniard a new long-term deal at the club.

Social Media Reaction

Somewhat predictably, the reaction to the mistake provoked a strong reaction on social media.

https://twitter.com/limoncellobs/status/1655281489896931332

But there were also a number of fans that leapt to the defence of the Spanish shot-stopper.

So what has provoked such a strong response on social media? The answer lies not in the fact that de Gea made that mistake yesterday, but that it the latest in what has been a worryingly long line of mistakes over the years for a player who was once the highest paid player at the club.

De Gea’s Gaffes

YouTube video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QjSteIDITk

The videos above show a number of mistakes that the United keeper has made for club and country in some major games that have had a major impact on what United have won, or qualified for, over the years.

Clearly, there is some kind of confidence or concentration issue that de Gea has, which can manifest itself in key games.

But is all this criticism of the player justified when you consider some of his better performances over the years?

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De Gea’s Outstanding Performances

YouTube video

While his errors may have been highlighted of late, it is easy to forget that there have been a number of games where de Gea has singlehandedly won United a point or more with some incredible saves.

In terms of talent, there is no doubt that de Gea is a fantastic goalkeeper and one of the best in the world today, he has made 659 appearances at club level, 84 for Atletico Madrid and 540 for Manchester United.

However, at international level, he has not been selected for Spain since the 2020 season and he was surprisingly discarded back then by former Spain manager Luis Enrique, ostensibly due to a poor performance in a World Cup game against Portugal.

Despite that, he has 45 caps for his country although he seems to be behind Robert Sanchez, David Raya, Unai Simon and perhaps Kepa Arrizabalage in the pecking order at international level.

Furthermore, he has been Manchester United’s players player of the year on four separate occasions, including last season, as well as in the PFA Team of the Year on five occasions.

Talent therefore is not in doubt, however, it seems there is a mental block, or a confidence or concentration issue that is causing de Gea to make these mistakes with worrying regularity if you are a Manchester United fan.

Contract Renewal Coming Up

Another issue to consider which makes this a very pressing issue for Manchester United’s staff and fans is that de Gea is now coming to the end of his current contract with the Red Devils.

The last time his contract was due for renewal was in 2019, and the Spaniard signed a deal which surprised many as it made him the then highest-paid player in the Premier League, earning around £375,000 a week.

According to a number of salary rankings, de Gea remains the second highest-paid player in the Premier League, earning the same amount as Manchester City striker Erling Haaland and only behind Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne.

There has been rumours that de Gea has tentatively agreed a new contract with United, but on a lower salary, but as yet nothing has been confirmed.

Vote Of Confidence From Ten Hag But Pundits Have Doubts

David de Gea

The goalkeeper did get a vote of confidence from his manager after the defeat to West Ham on Sunday when Erik Ten Hag was questioned about de Gea’s future, the Dutch manager responded:

“We want him to stay, and we want him to extend his contract.”

However, pundits that watched de Gea’s performance in the game with West Ham had their doubts as to whether the player was the right fit to play in Ten Hag’s new tactical scheme at Manchester United.

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand had doubts about de Gea’s ability to fit in with Ten Hag’s plans at the club.

“In terms of shot-stopping he’s made a mistake today but that’s not the area I question him,” stated Ferdinand.

“Is he a good enough footballer to play for Manchester United? The only person that can answer that is Erik Ten Hag and we’ll know at the end of this season.”

Another pundit, former Liverpool and England striker Peter Crouch outlined the conflicting issues that the Manchester United staff face when considering de Gea’s future.

“It’s a strange on, because he’s conceded goals from his own mistakes but he’s also kept the most clean sheets in the [Premier] League,’ said Crouch.

“If he’s in contract negotiations making mistakes like that is never going to help. He’s been a top-class goalkeeper over the years, but at the moment it feels like he’s making big errors in big, big games.”

United On The Lookout For A Replacement?

The latest defeat to West Ham has seen Manchester United’s odds with bet365 Sport to qualify for the Champions League lengthen slightly, as they are now just a point ahead of Liverpool, who are in fifth spot in the table after winning their last six Premier League games.

United still do have a game in hand on the charging Reds from down the M62, but their away form is such that these last four games of the season for them could be tricky.

Rumours also persist that United are looking at a replacement for de Gea, or at least a keeper to provide some competition. FC Porto’s Diogo Costa is thought to be one United have considered, as well as Brentford’s David Raya.

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