When Dean Henderson looks back at his 2020, the goalkeeper will see the year as one of progress.
He helped Sheffield United stay in the Premier League and earned a call up into the England senior squad.
Henderson then took the bold decision to stay at Manchester United instead of seeking a loan move.
Despite being second choice to David de Gea, he has made his Manchester United debut, his Premier League debut, and Champions League debut. All of these were big career goals Henderson will have wanted to tick off.
Now his task heading into 2021 is to try and build on this.
What happens next for Henderson?
Henderson returned to United with the hope he could displace David de Gea. His success depends on it.
De Gea has largely responded well to the challenge. Competition brings out the best in players and Henderson has sparked something in De Gea.
It has not all been seamless. De Gea was partly culpable for the third goal conceded in Leipzig and drew hefty criticism from Paul Scholes.
Henderson made a mistake of his own in his next start, getting caught out on the ball against former club Sheffield United. He can’t afford for this to become a regular occurrence.
Over the next few months, Henderson should get a good share of game time. He is likely to start the Carabao Cup semi-final against City next week. There is also the FA Cup and Europa League to look forward to.
That should be enough to prevent any temptation he has to head out on loan.
Beyond this season, it becomes a little cloudy for Henderson. This season is unique for him, playing irregularly, but he may not be willing to do so in 2021/22.
De Gea appears embedded at United for now. He is on high wages and on a long contract. Many top European clubs do not have the big money required to pay up for him, or the need.
Henderson may have to make a choice
Henderson has to find a way to surpass De Gea. He may have a chance to make a statement if he stars for United if the team go on to win the Carabao Cup.
De Gea may step back or make another big error, but if he doesn’t, the Spaniard will likely retain his place for the 2021/22 season as well.
This will leave Henderson having to make a choice, whether to stay and fight again, or head out on loan to play regularly and wait for De Gea’s time to end from afar.
United will then be looking for another back-up, especially if Sergio Romero is left by then. But that’s something to worry about next summer.
For now, there is a battle for the United goalkeeping spot, and Henderson has to head into 2021 continuing to believe he can win it.
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