David de Gea is at his lowest ebb at Manchester United and could do with a change of scenery. The Hard Tackle names three clubs where he could enjoy a revival.
It has been a sordid story of a spectacular fall from grace. A player who was personally scouted by Sir Alex Ferguson, David de Gea was the goalkeeping extraordinaire for Manchester United for years, single-handedly earning the Red Devils points galore. His exploits have been so decisive and impactful that de Gea has been named United’s Player of the Year four times in his nine-year spell at the club so far.
However, over the last couple of years, the 29-year-old has been on a constant downward spiral, much to the dismay of the Manchester United fans. The first blow came at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, while he was on international duty with Spain, where an abysmal showing allowed Portugal to hold La Roja to a 3-3 draw.
That might have been thought of as being a mere blip for a goalkeeper who had made a habit of pulling off breathtaking saves over the course of his career, and particularly at Manchester United. That has not been the case, though. Last season was perhaps de Gea’s worst in the red half of Manchester, considering his stature in world football.
The Spaniard made a number of uncharacteristic and crucial errors, ones which ultimately had a role to play in Manchester United missing out on a top four finish. While de Gea has improved a great deal this term, the errors have not gone away, which have prompted several United fans to call for his head.
Indeed, no goalkeeper has made more errors leading to a goal since the start of last season. In fact, de Gea has made more errors leading to a goal in the last two seasons in the Premier League (7) than in his first seven (6) at Manchester United. What has made his struggles even more frustrating for United fans is the fact that he is the best paid player at the club, that too by quite some margin.
The latest chapter in this horror story unfolded last week, as de Gea failed to stop a shot straight at him, which ultimately meant Manchester United had to share a point with Tottenham. A furious Roy Keane lambasted the Manchester United No. 1, calling him overrated among other things.
The Manchester United legend said, “I’m shocked. I’m shocked at that goal. I’ve watched a lot of football over the years and to give away that goal… I’m fuming… I am sick to death of this goalkeeper. I would be fining him [de Gea] at half-time, there is no getting away from that.”
“I would be swinging punches at that guy. That is a standard save for an established international goalkeeper. I am flabbergasted. Maguire and de Gea… I wouldn’t even let them on the bus after the match. Get a taxi back to Manchester. Do your job. We’re trying to get into the top four – never mind win trophies – shocking. I am disgusted. They should hang their heads in shame.”
Gary Neville was not as scathing in his assessment of de Gea, but he, too, said that his form should be taken seriously. Neville opined, “He was the one player United could rely upon for the last four years but he’s not the same. He hasn’t been the same for some time. When form drops for six months it’s a blip but when it goes on for a year you start to worry. When it goes over two years it becomes more permanent.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has defended de Gea with all his might. However, with Dean Henderson appearing to be ready to take on the mantle of being the No. 1 and with things probably reaching a head, a move away from Manchester United might be the solution for all parties involved. But, where could de Gea revive his sprauchling career? We list three possible destinations.
The Ideal Solution: PSG
They are a club that have always been on the look-out for the biggest of names in world football to create a squad that is not just capable of dominating French football but also win the elusive UEFA Champions League title. With that in mind, they have recruited some of the best players in the world over the years, including the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar and Thiago Silva.
In goal, though, they have constantly struggled on that account, till they secured the services of Keylor Navas last summer. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper, who was coincidentally touted to be Manchester United-bound before the fax machine saga unfolded, has been a top class addition for Les Parisiens.
However, Navas will be 34 this year and could theoretically be approaching the end of his career, at least at the topmost level. In such a scenario, PSG do need to sign a top class goalkeeper to initially compete with Navas to be the first-choice stopper before eventually taking over from the Costa Rica superstar for good in due course.
The need to sign a goalkeeper has also cropped up due to the fact that Alphonse Areola, on loan at Real Madrid at present, does not seem to be in the club’s plans for the forthcoming season, while the option to buy Sergio Rico on a permanent deal will not be exercised, as per reports.
With Areola likely to be loaned out again at the very least, PSG have a spot vacant, which is where de Gea comes in. The Spaniard has been extensively pursued by the French giants over the last few years and would be a handy purchase for the club.
As for the player himself, he would get the chance to compete in the Champions League year after year. And, competing in a league where he is unlikely to be tested a great deal could help him rack up the clean sheets and thereby rebuild his confidence, which seems to have been dented over the last couple of years.
All in all, this is a move that makes a great deal of sense for de Gea, although the one kicker is that he will have similarly higher expectations at Parc des Princes as he does when he is with Spain and Manchester United. If he does not live up to them, it could be curtains at another big club for de Gea quite quickly.
The Perfect Fit: Borussia Dortmund
Now, this is a potential destination that could raise a few eyebrows. However, close inspection will suggest that Borussia Dortmund would be just the perfect fit, not just for de Gea but for all parties involved.
At present, Dortmund have Roman Burki as their first-choice goalkeeper, with the Swiss custodian succeeding Roman Weidenfeller in the role. However, while Burki has a penchant to make some scintillating saves, he is also extremely prone to the odd error, here and there.
Furthermore, the 29-year-old has one of the worst save percentages in Europe, keeping out just over half the shots he faces. That is a rather underwhelming record to put it mildly and there are no two ways about the fact that Dortmund will do well to sign an upgrade.
At Manchester United, the going might have been tough for de Gea over the last two seasons. But, the Spaniard would still be a major upgrade on Burki, who just is not reliable enough to ensure that Dortmund can pose a challenge to Bayern Munich’s throne in the Bundesliga.
On the other hand, a change of scenery coupled with a place where expectations will not be sky high should keep de Gea in good stead. At the same time, playing Champions League football should serve as an added motivation for the 29-year-old. The stumbling block for Dortmund, though, will be his wages and it is unlikely that they will be able to afford him unless de Gea takes a pay cut.
The Left of Centre Option: Chelsea
The likes of Juventus and Real Madrid have been previously linked with de Gea. However, both the clubs seem to be sorted, as far as their goalkeeping slots are concerned. Juventus have one of the best goalkeepers in Serie A in Wojciech Szczesny, while Los Blancos have Thibaut Courtois, who is enjoying a splendid 2019/20 campaign.
A transfer to Chelsea might shock most people, but a move to Stamford Bridge could be just what de Gea’s career needs. The chance to usurp Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has displaced him in the Spanish national side, could perhaps drive de Gea to make the switch to London.
As for Chelsea, they can solve their goalkeeping crisis by signing a player who is still regarded as one of the best in the world, despite his recent shortcomings. And, signing de Gea could be a more straightforward ask, as compared to Dean Henderson, who is touted to have a bright future at Manchester United.
Chelsea have also previously been tipped by Graeme Souness to sign de Gea and in Frank Lampard, he will play under a manager whose methods will push him to rediscover his best touch. Having said that, the big stumbling block will be to convince Manchester United, who would be hesitant to sell de Gea to their direct rivals, despite the fall in his stature. For the Spaniard, though, it could be a move to spark a career resurgence.