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Should Man Utd keep David De Gea?

james-o-connor
28 Jun 2023
James O'Connor 28 Jun 2023
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  • The Red Devils have a one-year extension option on the Spaniard’s contract
  • The 32-year-old is world’s highest-paid goalkeeper on £375,000 per week
  • Can Erik Ten Hag use his preferred style of play with De Gea in goal?
david de gea
Manchester United's Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea could be set to depart the club (Getty Images)

De Gea’s Contract Situation


In September 2019, the goalkeeper signed a four year contract. That deal had a club option to add one extra year. Man Utd only have until 30 June to take up that offer or David De Gea will become a free agent. 

New Contact Offered, then Withdrawn


According to reports in The Athletic, Man Utd offered De Gea a new contract on reduced terms. They seemed content to hold onto him but not at the high salary he currently earns. It’s not clear what length of contract was offered but it’s safe to assume it was for at least another three seasons. 

Reports are now saying that the club have withdrawn that offer and will only renew his deal for even lower wages than originally proposed. 

Should Man Utd stick with the shot-stopper?


This is the big question, aside from any contract question marks. David De Gea kept the most clean sheets in the league last season and certainly had some fine performances. However, for years he has made regular howlers too. You only have to look at the very soft goal he conceded against West Ham towards the end of the season, as well as two saveable strikes he conceded in the FA Cup final. 

He is no longer a particularly consistent or reliable goalkeeper. When it comes to sweeper keeper actions off his line, De Gea is famously reluctant to perform them. Since he arrived, claiming crosses and set-plays have been a significant weakness in his game. 

Ball-playing ability: What Ten Hag wants


A year ago, we all saw the Dutch coach swearing at De Gea in a preseason friendly when he kicked the ball long. Ten Hag wants his goalkeeper to play out from the back and De Gea is simply not good at this.

In many matches this season, Man Utd have gone long from goalkicks and played off second balls. While the club had a good season – finishing third, ending a six-trophy drought in the Carabao Cup and making it to the FA Cup final – it came in a pragmatic style. 

Ten Hag’s ideal system would see ball-playing from the back and two attacking number tens. The move for Mason Mount helps with the latter but we will never see a United as a buildup team unless they ditch De Gea. It feels like the right time for all parties to cut ties.

Who Could Replace De Gea?


There have been two names consistently in this regard, Andre Onana of Inter Milan and David Raya of Brentford. Onana has the edge here because he has worked with Ten Hag, has much more pedigree and experience, and he is outstanding on the ball. 

On social media in recent weeks, there have been compilations of the Cameroonian playing out from the back and he is simply outstanding in this regard. Ahead of the UEFA Champions League final, Pep Guardiola singled out Andre Onana for praise, saying: “For the way they play, Onana is an exceptional goalkeeper to take that position to build-up. Really, really good.”

Raya is another solid option but Brentford were not a buildup side and the goalkeeper often hit accurate long diagonals onto Ivan Toney. If De Gea ends up leaving and United struggle to get a replacement, Dean Henderson is still on the books. He has returned from his injury-hit loan at Nottingham Forest. 

Verdict: Man Utd should release De Gea


Considering the shot-stopping errors and the limitations that David De Gea has in the build-up, it is time to move on to someone younger and more modern. Andre Onana is the ideal replacement, not least because he knows Erik Ten Hag so well. 

Yes, he could cost in the region of £60m but Man Utd should be able to recoup at least £20m of that from selling Dean Henderson. Onana would also earn significantly less than De Gea. If he were to earn £250k per week, United would be saving almost six million per season in wages versus what they were paying De Gea.

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