Could World Cup hopes spark David de Gea's Manchester United exit?
David de Gea is getting used to life as second-choice goalkeeper for both Manchester United and Spain.
The 30-year-old has not played in any of his country’s last six games. While Dean Henderson has staked his claim to start ahead of the Spaniard at Old Trafford.
It remains to be seen if these decisions are permanent. Yet Henderson is not going to give up the gloves without a fight.
For his country, the United stopper will have watched Unai Simon gift Kosovo an implausible goal last week and seen a glimmer of hope for a Euro 2021 chance.
Yet De Gea is not averse to a mistake or two himself these days, and it will be interesting to see where he is by the time the World Cup kicks off in 2022.
De Gea will know he needs to play regularly to force his way back into Spain’s starting XI and stay there.
But that could be a problem if Henderson continues to perform as he has been. So far, the 24-year-old has racked up an impressive 12 clean sheets in just 19 United games.
He has also given confidence to United’s previously shaky defence. And the importance of that cannot be understated.
Few United fans want to see De Gea back in the starting XI any time soon. Henderson is no longer the future; he is the present, and deservedly so. But where does that leave De Gea?
He could remain at United next season, earning a huge pay packet, and challenge Henderson. But that would give him less opportunity of ensuring he is first-choice for his country when the world’s biggest football tournament kicks off.
Ideal time for a change
Alternatively, the ‘keeper could leave United, allowing Henderson to blossom, and move to a club where he is a guaranteed starter.
That would be most teams in Europe so, if he is happy to take a pay-cut, De Gea could find a club to showcase his talents week in, week out. A change could also see him rediscover the form that once saw him touted as the world’s best.
The birth of De Gea’s first child has seen talk of a return to his homeland. With his place between the sticks at the next World Cup in question, now could be the ideal time for a parting of the ways.