David de Gea’s form and contract uncertainty were two topics that Manchester United fans were hoping to be a thing of the past once the new season kicked off. It’s beginning to look like a terrible combination.
The Spanish stopper is free to negotiate with foreign clubs in January due to his existing contact expiring at the end of the season.
United fans were rejoicing at the news that De Gea was set to sign a new a six-year deal once returning from pre-season but the contract is yet to be confirmed. Nor is it looking imminent.
If the situation isn’t clarified come December, United could be left in the unenviable position of either opting to sell De Gea in January or sticking by him in a hope he does sign a new contract but risk losing him on a free transfer.
De Gea hasn’t recovered from the traumatic World Cup he endured where he made one save from the seven shots on goal. It meant that he was the first goalkeeper that has made the fewest saves from at least three World Cup games since 1966 (Marca reported).
The inexplicable errors continued to unravel at a rate of knots last season. There was the howler in the Nou Camp when a tame right-footed Lionel Messi effort squirmed underneath his body.
The former Atletico Madrid keeper was culpable for both goals in the Manchester derby defeat at Old Trafford. Bernardo Silva’s low drive went inside his near post and then he was at fault again when Leroy Sane’s drive went straight through him after he opted for his favoured kick save.
There was no rest for De Gea as his inability to handle numerous long-range efforts from the likes of Granit Xhaka, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Antonio Rüdiger was exposed during the latter stages of the season.
What has happened this season?
It may be a new season but the De Gea of old still remains a long way off from returning. Despite initial promise in the opening couple of games, the 28-year-old couldn’t keep out Patrick van Aanholt’s near post shot which gave Crystal Palace their first shock win at Old Trafford since 1989.
Southampton’s equaliser came from De Gea’s reluctance to catch a fairly straight forward glancing header towards goal from Danny Ings. De Gea opted to punch the ball clear but the ball fell to Kevin Danso and the full-backs return cross was powered home by Jannik Vestergaard who was too strong for Victor Lindelöf.
United were crying out for their keeper to take control of the situation and relieve the growing pressure they were coming under. However, De Gea’s confidence currently resembles the timid slender boy who first joined Manchester United and was given a rude awakening to the physicality of the English game.
De Gea’s recent clean sheet return is a measly two in 20 games but amazingly his poor run of form still hasn’t stopped him being named in the FIFA FIFPRO World 11 shortlist.
It was only in January at the height of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s temporary renaissance period that De Gea produced a man-of-the-match masterclass, making 11 saves to thwart Tottenham. The most the goalkeeper had produced in a single Premier League match, other than the 14 he produced against Arsenal in December 2017.
De Gea has never brought the same calming presence as Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar both did. Ederson and Alisson are two sweeper keepers who are braver and take charge of the penalty area, De Gea on the other hand is reluctant to come off his line.
Where does he stand with Spain?
The former undisputed Spanish number one is having to get use to sharing the national team jersey with Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga.
De Gea had to watch from the bench as the former Athletic Bilbao keeper made a stunning last-minute save to earn Spain the win in Romania.
Part of the issue for Manchester United regarding contract negotiations is De Gea’s desire to be earning a figure around the £350,000 per week mark, which is a staggering amount for a goalkeeper who has become a shadow of his former self.
But when the club decided to give Alexis Sanchez a staggering wage packet they made a rod for their own back.
There is no denying the talent that De Gea possesses, when confident and on song he is arguably the best shot stopper in the world, but Solskjaer needs him to rekindle his former consistent form and put an end to the transfer speculation by signing a new contract.
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