Manchester United have had some very promising goalkeepers come through the ranks only to disappear before their first-team breakthrough. But that is not the path destined for Dean Henderson.
The 23-year-old is United’s best young stopper for decades and David de Gea should be looking over his shoulder despite the Spaniard’s quality and experience.
Henderson has flourished at Sheffield United and is, in the eyes of many, ready for his Old Trafford chance. But that role once looked set for another player altogether.
Joel Pereira is the same age as Henderson but the former is no longer a shoo-in for a future role at United. In fact, the England prospect is everything his Portuguese teammate was tipped to be and more.
While Henderson has flourished in recent seasons and is a bona fide Premier League star, Pereira has floundered. A series of loan spells provided glimpses of his quality but he rarely got a look-in until this season at Hearts.
In 25 appearances he has shipped 43 goals and managed just five clean sheets. In contrast, Henderson has 11 shut-outs and has conceded just 24 times in 27 games. He has also been performing at a considerably higher level, proving he can cut it in the English top flight.
Pereira’s quality is undeniable and he looks set for a great career. But that is unlikely to be at United. It is only a matter of time before Henderson becomes first-choice at Old Trafford and the Portuguese will not want to play second fiddle for the next decade.
That is his best case scenario if he and Henderson both remain at the club. Pereira spoke to the Daily Record last year about his dreams of a United future, but that is easier said than done.
It is a shame for those excited by Pereira’s early years at the club. But they won’t mind too much given Henderson’s rise. The Manchester Evening News reports that he is already worth £30million but United know exactly what they have at their disposal and he will be worth his weight in gold for years to come.