There’s no denying that David de Gea is Manchester United’s best player. In fact, the Spaniard is miles ahead of any other member of this starting XI. Unfortunately for him, he has been gifted one of the weakest defenses Red Devil fans have ever watched. In spite of that, he persists in a manner that leaves many wondering what sort of elixir he must be taking to suffer through another 90 minutes of mediocrity from the rest of his mates.
For three consecutive seasons, he was named United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year. At 28, the man is at the prime of his career, and has given all that he can to Manchester United. Every transfer window, he leads the conversation as to whether or not he has finally grown tired of being the hero and whether he is ready to leave Old Trafford in search of legitimate hardware (Community Shields don’t count). United lose players, gain others, and fans breathe a sigh of relief because their (literal) saving grace will walk onto the pitch in a fluorescent kit and save his side once again.
Last week, it was announced that United triggered a 12-month extension on De Gea’s current contract. Set to originally expire next summer, the Premier League champion will stay in Manchester for another 18 months. Had this clause not been activated, De Gea would have been free to speak with other sides as early as the January transfer window.
A player of his talent should not be satisfied with one domestic title in seven years. Sitting 16 points behind league leaders and defending champions Manchester City, United’s Premier League triumph hopes are all but shattered this campaign. The best they can do is muster a top-four finish to entice any transfer targets to endure the dismay that is working under José Mourinho for the trade-off of donning a kit for one of the most storied clubs in football.
De Gea’s presence in the back gives United supporters hope that this is a competitive club. Without him, the Red Devils would be joining recent foes Southampton at the bottom of the table. However, as admirers of his strengths and understanding of his desire to taste hardware one more time, United fans should be not only ready, but understanding of De Gea’s decision to eventually leave for Spain (where he has been rumored to be headed for the last several transfer windows).
If De Gea were to leave Manchester for greener pastures, is he really at fault? His situation bears some resemblance to Robin van Persie’s final year at Arsenal. One of the best strikers in the world and with plenty of gas left in the tank, RVP didn’t see a winning future with the Gunners. In the summer of 2012, he left North London for Manchester, hopeful of a brighter fate. In his first season at Old Trafford, he lifted the Premier League trophy and was 2013’s Golden Boot winner. Similar to the Dutchman’s regret to have been one of the best in his craft to never have lifted significant hardware, De Gea absolutely deserves a similar opportunity.
While he can call himself a Premier League victor, De Gea hasn’t actually won the title since being deemed “world class,” a status he is universally regarded to have achieved post Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement. It’s been half a decade since he saw success at the domestic level, and for an excellent keeper, that has got to be unsatisfactory.
Someone of his caliber doesn’t deserve to be relegated to Europa League play at the top of his career, or barely knocking on fourth place halfway through the year. He has been United’s knight in shining armor many times, but sadly the club hasn’t stepped up to win the title again for him. De Gea might have taken the right decision in staying at United, but it might not have been the most ideal decision for his career.
The debacle at United will make De Gea think post-2020. The managerial power struggles at the club will compel him into wondering if United will be Premier League champions again in the next two years. With his contract expiring and there being a line of clubs ready to open their pocketbooks, the thought will be certainly dancing in his mind.
No matter David de Gea’s move in 2020, the Spaniard has already cemented his name in Manchester United’s history books. Very few keepers are capable of making each acrobatic save look easier than the previous one, and while the Red Devils still have him, they should be more than thankful for the contributions he has made for this club.