Manchester United have some of the best goalkeepers in Europe, and one of them isn’t even at the club right now.
While David de Gea retains Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s faith, and Sergio Romero sits patiently on the bench, Dean Henderson has thrived on loan at Sheffield United.
With two seasons under his belt away from Old Trafford, the time has surely come for Henderson to prove his worth closer to home.
The problem for United is that De Gea is going nowhere. Yet granting another temporary stint elsewhere for Henderson would only be delaying the inevitable.
As reported by Sky Sports, United are trying to tie the 23-year-old down to a new long-term deal. They are also contemplating what is best for his short-term future.
Another loan is possible. But so is the prospect of Henderson challenging for United’s spot between the posts as early as September.
In truth, anything other than the second option would be putting off a decision Solskjaer needs to make eventually.
De Gea is only 29 and has a contract until at least 2023. When it comes to Henderson getting his chance, if not now, then when?
Romero’s presence at Old Trafford proves that you can have two quality ‘keepers in the same squad. Of course, few are as selfless as the Argentine, who would be first-choice at half the clubs in England.
A tough but necessary choice
Wherever Henderson plays next season, he will want to be first-choice. That is understandably given his fine form for the Blades, initially in the Championship and now in the top flight.
Representing United would be a different prospect. And the spotlight would be on him from the outset.
Every mistake will be analysed and he could be written off as quickly as he has been heralded. De Gea knows all about the pressures that comes with being United’s number one.
The fact that he dusts himself off and goes again is testament to his character and is something Henderson will have to learn.
However, the only way he will learn is to play. By coming back to United now, it would also allow him to challenge De Gea while also coming out of the spotlight when necessary.
Henderson’s confidence is considerable and it will take him a long way.
The problem for Solskjaer is that keeping Henderson could condemn one of the Premier League’s best ‘keepers to the bench – be that the youngster or the Spaniard.
Yet it is a decision that has to be made sooner rather than later. Henderson cannot keep signing contracts at United only to spend the next three or four years away from the club.
The United boss should keep him and give him the chance to impress. A campaign to bed him in slowly could ultimately be the smartest decision for all concerned.