David de Gea faces a fight to reclaim Spain’s number one goalkeeping spot ahead of next summers Euros and his performances for the remainder of the season are going to have a huge bearing.
Manchester United’s goalkeeper has had to endure being cut adrift under Roberton Moreno, who temporairly replaced Luis Enrique, having previously been first choice after patiently biding his time and ousting Iker Casillas towards the end of the Vicente del Bosque era.
Chelsea stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga has been preferred throughout 2019, leaving De Gea to start just two of his country’s last nine matches.
After Moreno’s arrival, the only qualifier De Gea completed 90 minutes in was against the lowly ranked Faroe Islands. It was a token gesture.
In the latest international break, Roma’s Pau Lopez was given his 2nd cap against Malta, and for the clash against Romania, it was Kepa who was reinstated with De Gea overlooked once again.
What comes next?
Enrique had stepped down in June as his nine-year-old daughter had been suffering with cancer, but three months after her tragic death, he has returned as Lo Roja boss ahead of the European Championships.
The news must have been most welcomed by De Gea, who will be targeting a strong end to the campaign to impress Enrique and be reinstated as the number one.
Under Enrique, who was appointed in July 2018, De Gea was in command of the goalkeeping jersey, despite his poor performances at the World Cup that preceded Enrique’s arrival.
De Gea endured a traumatic World Cup 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).
He started all four Nations League games, home and away against England and Croatia under Enrique.
United performances key
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping that the competition for the Spanish number one spot will bring the best out of De Gea for the remainder of the season.
In 13 matches this season United’s stopper has conceded 12 goals alongside three clean sheets.
Kepa, the worlds most expensive goalkeeper, has conceded 25 goals in 17 games with 4 clean sheets to his name.
The disadvantage De Gea has is that his side are currently cut adrift from the top four and are competing in the Europa League, whereas Kepa is featuring in the Champions League and Chelsea currently sit third in the Premier League.
United’s number one needs to rekindle the world class level he consistently produced before a troublesome 2018/19 season. It was those performances that made him untouchable for club and country.
After signing a new contract with United, De Gea looks back to his self-assured best this season and would have been delighted to see the additions of Harry Maguire and Aaaron Wan-Bissaka tighten up a leaky defence.
When De Gea is at his unbeatable best, he is arguably the best shot stopper in the world and for the opposition it must seem like they are playing against a wall.
With all due respect to Kepa, he cannot reach the same level that an in form De Gea is capable of, he has benefitted from an uncharacteristic dip in form and confidence from the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper.
The reappointment of Enrique will have given him a lift, but is up to the 29-year-old to take command of the jersey with his performances at United.
The competition for places will hopefully light a fire in De Gea, but for Manchester United having a David de Gea with a point to prove can only be positive news.
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