Dean Henderson has been a popular figure in the media as of late. He made headlines last week after a mistake against Liverpool gifted the league leaders three points, and this week rumors that Manchester United just placed a 20-million-pound price tag on him have ensured his affairs remain front page news. His recent successes at Sheffield United in the Championship and now the Premier League have seen him go from an unknown to a household name in Manchester seemingly overnight, yet the keeper traces his roots in the North West back to 2011 when he joined the academy as a 14-year-old.
Henderson quickly progressed through the youth ranks at Carrington and was a finalist for the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year Award in 2015, signing his first professional contract shortly afterwards. Since then, he has gained a wealth of experience on loan, beginning at non-league club Stockport County and progressing to a higher level each successive year, rising up through the Football League with Grimsby, Shrewsbury Town, and now Sheffield United. After earning promotion to the Premier League with the latter in a season which saw him win the club’s Young Player of the Year award and the Championship’s Golden Glove, Manchester United tied down Henderson to fresh terms before sending him back to Sheffield for the 2019/20 season.
Although he expressed his contentment at rejoining the Blades, Henderson has made it clear that he has his eyes on the gloves at Old Trafford, telling the Daily Mail:
“I would give my right leg to play for that football club. That has been my dream since I was a little boy, being a fan. I just know I’m working hard in the background and waiting for any little opportunity that comes up. If it does, I will take it for the next 10 to 15 years.”
And it seems Henderson will have to keep waiting, as David De Gea’s new deal has obstructed his path to the Red Devils’ number one shirt. Henderson’s rapid development, however, means United have a difficult decision on their hands next summer.
It makes no sense for either party to keep Henderson as a number two; he is ready to be a Premier League starter, and De Gea has shown time and time again that he thrives when he feels fully supported, rather than when he faces the insecurity of competition. On the other hand, being young and British means Henderson fits the long-term vision at United, and the club hasn’t had one of their own as a regular starter in goal since David Gaskell in the early 1960s.
If United does end up selling Henderson, they would be wise to put a buy-back clause in any deal. De Gea’s position is safe for now, but if the Spaniard’s slide in form coincides with Henderson’s continued rise on his current trajectory, having a pre-agreed fee would be more than handy. While there are still many what-if factors that will surely influence how his story plays out, there’s no question that Manchester United supporters should pay close attention to all things Dean Henderson.