David de Gea enters 2020/21 facing the biggest challenge of his Manchester United career since he first joined the club.
Even right now, it is unpredictable how his battle with Dean Henderson will play out.
Sky Sports report Henderson will compete with De Gea for the number one spot at Manchester United.
At first glance, this indicates United are preparing for Henderson to eventually take De Gea’s place.
But there is nothing to say this will happen right away.
2020/21 an important year for De Gea
David de Gea is pushing to keep his place for Spain at Euro 2021. He will also have an eye on the 2022 World Cup.
It helps that his main rival Kepa Arrizzabalaga is going through a tough time at Chelsea, losing his place at the end of the season to Willy Caballero.
So long as De Gea is not completely demoted to being a number two, he should have the edge over his more junior international rival.
Henderson also has similar ambitions for Euro 2021. He was called into the England squad, and last season had a better year than Everton’s Jordan Pickford, with a very impressive loan spell at Sheffield United.
It is a gamble on his part to stay, and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his work cut out in trying to keep both goalkeepers happy.
Solskjaer cannot get consumed by trying to please the individual ambitions of either at international level. Really, fighting for the United number one spot should be enough, but it is there in the background.
The extra incentive for both players will drive up competition and De Gea will not give up his spot without a fight.
He is the player with the number one jersey, and having just signed a new contract last year worth a reported £350,000 per week (Sky Sports), United will not find it easy to sell him to cash in either, with clubs across Europe tightening their belts at present.
Standards will be raised
De Gea’s form dropped last season, with key mistakes against Watford and Everton in the Premier League, and in the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
He came in for heavy criticism too from Roy Keane after conceding Steven Bergwijn’s goal away at Tottenham.
Despite this, Solskjaer stuck with him, even recalling him for the Europa League semi-final at the expense of Sergio Romero.
This shows he will give De Gea a fair shot too, but if there are more errors, the manager can be more ruthless and bring in Henderson.
Solskjaer will hope that De Gea will not make any more errors, with the competition Henderson brings prompting him to raise his game.
We expect him to do so, because De Gea knows if he does not, Henderson is all too eager to step in and dislodge him from the team.
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