Manchester United depended on goalkeeper David de Gea’s dominance for several years.
He won a slate of titles individually and for the team while garnering great aplomb for his efforts. Furthermore, de Gea racked up an astonishing 45 caps for the Spanish national team.
But, for a year or two, it looked like de Gea was unfit to be in goal for the Red Devils and Spain alike. In the 2018/19 campaign, de Gea only kept seven clean sheets in the Premier League. A year later, de Gea put up a mediocre season. His 19/20 season with Manchester United was reminiscent of earlier seasons, proving his Premier League dominance with a host of eye-opening stats.
Last year, de Gea missed matches due to the birth of his child. His absence meant that his understudy, Dean Henderson, would be the first-choice keeper for the Red Devils. Yet, de Gea still did well, even if he did not bring his show-stopping performances to the Premiership. He was a driving force in his runner-up finish in the Europa League.
This year, he is making a difference for the Old Trafford club. Although United consistently faces dilemmas, de Gea is deservingly receiving praise. Performances against Villarreal, Wolves, and Norwich affirm de Gea’s dominance in goal.
De Gea is a different keeper than the youthful face that we saw patrolling the posts for Atletico Madrid. He is wiser, more dependable, and a genuine threat to opposing attackers. He ranks near the top in most goalkeeping categories. De Gea is the anchor of a dreadful Manchester United defense and plays a big part in its success.
His performances could have lasting impacts for the club. On surface, they are great. However, this could handicap Manchester United a few years down the road.
de Gea’s dominance, expanded
Manchester United is sixth in the Premier League with 27 points. They await a fixture with reigning LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. In the third round of the FA Cup, the Red Devils will face Aston Villa.
None of those are easy positions or matchups. David de Gea knows his role is essential in the next two months of fixtures. If things go poorly, it could spell doom for the Red Devils.
David de Gea is one of the only highlights in an injury-plagued United defense. When United fails, whether from poor management or a fatigued back-line, de Gea is there to rescue his side.
FBREF’s catalog of stats supports de Gea’s dominance. He racked up 50 saves out of 73 shots on target for a 68.5% save rate. The 31-year-old forced three out of four penalty kicks away. De Gea’s clean sheet percentage is a passable 31.
The argument for or against de Gea swings both ways. One could argue that his stats are only weighed down by his lackluster defense, another could say his stats go up because he is called into action so frequently. Regardless, de Gea is showing his class in Old Trafford time and time again.
We can look at his dramatic outing against Villarreal as proof of his reliability. De Gea saved six shots to hold the Europa League champions to one goal. By contrast, Villarreal was expected to score around four goals.
De Gea saved five shots to preserve his first clean sheet against Wolves. The performance yielded man of the match honors.
The Spaniard is playing at the top of his game, and he will likely do so throughout 2022. Look out for de Gea’s next match, as he will look to earn his fifth clean sheet against Newcastle.
Club and country
De Gea justified his position as the first-choice stopper for United. Yet, this raises questions for Dean Henderson, who has only played two senior matches for the Red Devils. He started in United’s EFL Cup defeat to West Ham and played around 70 minutes in a draw Young Boys. The 24-year-old is vocal in his desire to leave Old Trafford for greener pastures, and Henderson will likely leave. Yet Henderson has been linked with many clubs. Henderson could even depart in the winter transfer window!
His form also raises questions on how La Roja manager Luis Enrique will choose his starting goalkeeper. De Gea is in the three-person goalkeeping rotation with Athletic Club keeper Unai Simon and Brighton stopper Robert Sanchez.
Sanchez, who has only received one cap, will not see many opportunities. Likely, de Gea will not play a lot either. Unai Simon, a talisman for club and country, will play the most out of three. He has been the first-choice keeper since Euro 2020 and will continue to be the starting keeper unless an injury forces him out of play.
De Gea will compete for playing time and more caps ahead of an exciting Nations League draw that sees Spain drawn against Portugal, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
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