Having spent seven years at Old Trafford and showing up consistently between the sticks for the Red Devils, it still appears a surprise that the Spaniard’s trophy cabinet does not reflect his performances.
Since winning the League in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last year at United, the FA cup and continental success in Europe’s second tier competition, the Europa League have been the only pieces of major silverware United’s no.1 has had cause to celebrate.
Add the EFL cup and a pre-season charity match dubbed the FA Community Shield – of which De Gea has appeared winner thrice – to his trophy collections and you get a real feeling of how his small achievements with the Red Devils have done little to help his claim as one of Europe’s best shot-stoppers in the last five years.
Indeed, De Gea is rated highly for his goalkeeping skills but not on the same level as world cup winning goalkeepers, Gianluigi Buffon and Manuel Neuer who are head and shoulder above the 27-year old and a lot of that plays down to winning trophies.
Football is indeed a team sport and in that regard, Buffon and Neuer have won six consecutive league trophies with their respective teams, in Buffon’s case with Juventus whom he quit this summer to join Paris Saint Germain – another club where the league trophy is annually guaranteed except for occasional slip-ups – a feat which would have been easily achievable for the Spaniard if he played for any of those teams.
De Gea has been surrounded by inconsistent teammates and under-performing managers since the end of the Fergie era which has seen a dramatic change in fortune for the now lukewarm Red Devils. The narrative could have been different had a last-day transfer move to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu been successful.
The Madrid-born player has been subject to a transfer to the Bernabeu in previous seasons and came close to completing the move in the summer of 2015 after an agreement had been reached between both sides worth £29 million including the part-exchange of Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas only for the move to be scuppered in the last minute in controversial fashion.
Keylor Navas went on to win the Champions League with Madrid that season and in the following two seasons becoming a part of the first team to successfully defend the Champions League twice, a feat which lies in De Gea’s wildest imaginations and would have him kicking within.
He could have been in Navas’ place but for a broken fax machine which meant that the deal fell through at the 11th hour. All due respect to Navas, De Gea is a better goalkeeper which explains why Los Blancos have constantly tried to secure a move for the United goalkeeper despite having the former Levante man in their books.
At Manchester United, De Gea has become the victim of a failing system which has seen three managers and several squad overhauls post Fergie era. The Spaniard has been United’s best player for a record five times despite playing between the sticks and to further emphasize his goalkeeping abilities, he has been voted into the PFA Team of the Year on five occasions.
A move away from United to a club where he has a better chance at winning a major trophy will be better for the 27-year old as it would help solidify his spot as one of Europe’s best goalkeepers at the moment if not the best at the moment.
It was reported earlier this week that the United star was hesitant on agreeing to a new deal as it is believed he is concerned about the club’s chances at winning trophies especially given the current state of things at Old Trafford.
De Gea is one of eleven United stars who could depart the club for free this summer and currently in the last year of his current deal, the Spaniard is reportedly reluctant to sign a new contract due to being unhappy with the situation at the club and is believed to be considering his options.
The Red Devils currently sit eighth in the league this season and have had to endure internal wrangling coupled with poor on-pitch performances which has placed the club in a precarious situation especially as it concerns players’ renewals.
After failed attempts at signing the United no.1, Madrid signed Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea during the summer transfer window and that move seems to have put an end to the De Gea-Madrid episode although a move to the European Champions at any point in the future cannot be written off.
It is now reported that French Champions, Paris Saint Germain are willing to offer the Spaniard an escape route if the opportunity presents itself.
As the cliche goes “your future is in your hands”, the future lies in the hands of the 27-year old goalkeeper who has to make the decision of which club he commits the prime years of his career to.