David de Gea next in line for ruthless Erik ten Hag after seeing off Ronaldo and Maguire

When Sir Alex Ferguson wanted fans favourite Norman Whiteside and Paul McGrath out of Manchester United squad, none at the club were pleased. Injury had almost curtailed Whiteside's career by then while McGrath was reinvigorated after leaving United for Villa culminating in fantastic World Cup performances with Ireland in Italy and USA. Erik ten Hag has already gotten rid of Cristiano Ronaldo and rarely uses club captain Harry Maguire, next in line is legendary keeper with most number of games, clean sheets for Manchester United and last player to have won Premier League in 2013, David de Gea.

David de Gea has won Sir Matt Busby player of the year award 4 times and helped United to finish in top six with incredible saves despite being in a poor side. He has never been in headlines for wrong reasons and worked with all coaches from Ferguson to ten Hag. His performances in most of last 12 years can be compared with 'Captain Marvel' Bryan Robson's 12 year tenure as they both carried a floundering club single handedly. Robson won the Premier League twice, Cup Winners Cup, 3 FA Cup's and League Cup while de Gea has won the Premier League once, Europa League, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cup's.

From last season unfortunately a montage can also be made of blunders of David de Gea. Most recently in the FA Cup final against City for both goals from Gundogan, first and third goal against Sevilla in Europa League quater-finals 2nd leg, messed up a speculative shot from Benrahma at West Ham to lose 0-1, got beaten at near post for 1st goal scored by Barcelona at Camp Nou, let the ball slip between his legs for Everton's only goal as United won 3-1 in FA Cup 3rd round, 1st goal in the 0-4 loss at Brentford where he let the ball pass through his hands while diving. Roy Keane had this to say after the FA Cup final loss "That’s the thing with top goalkeepers, they get you over the line in certain games and could have been the difference today. You expect your keeper to save that and he didn't and that’s why we’re seeing these celebrations. For Man United, they need a world class goalkeeper and he isn't". 

These crucial mistakes apart from inherent deficiency in his game of not commanding his penalty area aerially, poor clearance from pressure situations during back pass, zero understanding between him and Maguire, not able to play out from the back a pre-requisite for the modern game make his future as United No 1 keeper vulnerable. The Athletic published a damning report of how Manchester United backed out of contract negotiations by not signing the deal after agreeing lower terms with David de Gea. If true it's a very bad way to treat a club legend who has bailed the club in its worst times. Club have not responded to this report as yet but released a short statement "De Gea's contract is due to run out but discussions remain open with the long-serving keeper".

Officially David de Gea is a free agent as of 1st July, 2023 and Dean Henderson their No 1 keeper who seems bent on joining Nottingham Forest who in return are yet to make an offer for him. With the club up for sale and ownsership status not yet decided the funds available for summer transfer are limited. With a centre-forward and midfielder already a priority adding a keeper to the list squeezes the funds even further. Options for United include buying a new No 1 keeper like Andre Onana from Inter who is valued at 50 million, make Dean Henderson the new No 1 keeper and buy a new backup keeper, give David de Gea a new contract and buy a new backup keeper to maintain pressure to perform. 

Backup keeper option seems to be over after United did not pursue its interest in Bart Verbruggen who has since joined Brighton. It's a dead heat between signing Onana and retaining out-of-contract David de Gea. As per Fabrizio Romano the respected transfer specialist United wish to speak with de Gea after his marriage and ascertain his future plans if he has any offers on hand and then take a call. Press reports claim of offer from Saudi club Al-Nassr FC for whom Cristano Ronaldo also plays. To bolster funds for transfers United have put Fred and Elanga on the list. Futures of Harry Maguire, Anthony Martial, Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Brandon Williams, Donny van de Beek that's 7 confirmed players for exit and an area where club is not good at namely getting a good value for its players and getting the deal done quickly. Despite the imminent arrival of Mason Mount, most problematic position has been that of No 6 when Casemiro is injured and United must get a backup without fail.

Two years back had done this tribute to David de Gea, a bona fide Manchester United club legend and one of its greatest ever keepers. Club under Richard Arnold and John Murtough has backed Erik ten Hag over an icon like Ronaldo which is a welcome departure from Ed Woodward's social media preference to retain stars as in case of Pogba over Mourinho. Erik ten Hag needs to be backed to get his players in order to realise the style of play desired on the pitch for Manchester United to progress. In his first year he has clearly achieved his targets especially by ending the trophy drought and finishing in top three. Here is hoping he succeeds like how Ferguson did.

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