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David De Gea: A commanding goalkeeper, a century of clean sheets and a crucial player for Manchester United

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has joined the 100 club after United’s 4-0 victory over Everton in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon. United have started the new season in good form, winning four out of five league matches, three of which had the same scoreline, 4-0. In the UEFA Champions League, United started well also, beating FC Basel 3-0 at the Theatre of Dreams, which as of Sunday saw seven goals at the stadium inside the same week. On Wednesday United face Burton Albion in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford, which could see more goals coming.

De Gea marked his 275th appearance for the Red Devils with his 100th clean sheet, which is a great feat considering the start he had at the Theatre of Dreams in the 2011/12 season after making his near £18 million transfer from Atletico Madrid, replacing the veteran goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who was a big loss for the club that summer. De Gea soon settled and started his journey to become the best goalkeeper in the world, a title he arguably holds at this moment in time.

Of his 100 clean sheets, 79 come in the Premier League, 10 in the UEFA Champions League, one in the UEFA Europa League, four in the FA Cup, five in the League Cup and one in the FA Community Shield. It was also the day that United kept their 250th clean sheet at Old Trafford in the Premier League with Peter Schmeichel having 68 of those in his own name. De Gea, compared to Schmeichel, may have a long way to go to reach those feats, especially in the plaudits and trophies the Danish goalkeeper won in his time at United, but it is coming for the Spanish number one.

De Gea could be on 101 clean sheets but at the end of the 2014/15 season against Arsenal, where he came off injured and was replaced by Victor Valdes, which incidentally could have also been his last match at the Theatre of Dreams, the Spanish goalkeeper had a clean sheet in that match, Valdes conceding the goal, but as the player did not finish the match, it will not be counted as a clean sheet, which is understandable.

When you look at the goalkeepers with the most clean sheets during their United careers, Schmeichel tops the list with 180. In second place there is Alex Stepney with 175, then Gary Bailey with 161, then Edwin van der Sar with 135, the next landmark for the Spanish goalkeeper, something which could well be achieved inside the next two seasons, should United continue to perform like they have of late. Perhaps De Gea could get closer to that feat this season, who knows?

During De Gea’s six-year career at the Theatre of Dreams, there have been some sublime saves, most recently the one to deny compatriot Jese Rodriguez against Stoke City last weekend, but United had already conceded a goal through Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, the player scoring again minutes later. During clean sheet matches, De Gea has made some spectacular saves too from Philippe Coutinho’s effort in the 0-0 draw against Liverpool last season, to that Papiss Cisse stop against Newcastle in 2013 and the series of saves against Chelsea in 2013 and 2015 – there are plenty to feast your eyes on.

De Gea should continue his rise to the best goalkeeper in the world over the next few years. United have so far stopped the Spaniard from leaving for Real Madrid and his current contract will end in the summer of 2019, which could well see the Spanish shot-stopper sign a new contract either this season or next summer as United will not want him to head into his last year of contract, although there is an option to add a further year onto the Spaniards contract, keeping him until 2020, which may or may not be utilised – hopefully he will sign a new long-term contract at some point during the next eight or nine months.

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