Five years ago on Wednesday, Manchester United finalised a deal for Atletico Madrid shot-stopper, David De Gea to replace United veteran Edwin van der Saar. The fee was believed to be around £18.9 million, which made De Gea the second most expensive goalkeeper in the world and the most expensive goalkeeper in the Premier League. Upon his arrival, David De Gea said to MUTV:
“I feel very proud and I can’t wait to start playing here. When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you, it obviously makes you very, very happy. I’m keen to do my best and show what I can do.”
Sir Alex Ferguson was also very pleased with the signing of David De Gea with him saying:
“He’s a young goalkeeper, very quick, good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for Van der Sar. We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organisational ability.”
Looking back at the deal now, it seems like a bargain considering how many points he has saved us, especially in the last two years. It wasn’t all good for De Gea at first, though, he had a very tough time at the club at the start.
De Gea made a series of blunders early on in his career, one of the most notable ones coming against Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on his competitive debut. Opposition players would relish the opportunity to come up against him. They would try and bully him, this would then result in him making mistakes which then forced the hand of Alex Ferguson. Ferguson ended up starting Lindegaard ahead of De Gea as it seemed he wasn’t ready for the Premier League Just yet. Alongside his mistakes, he also showed signs of brilliance in some games, making a string of excellent saves, for example, he saved one of Robin van Persie’s penalty in the 8-2 thrashing of Arsenal.
When the 2012/13 season started, De Gea was still prone to making mistakes, but not as many as the previous season. He played the majority of the games within Ferguson’s last season and everyone started to believe that we have a star in the making in goal for the next 10+ years. Manchester United fans really didn’t get to see the De Gea we all love and know now under Ferguson but Ferguson knew he would come good, especially by signing De Gea over Bayern Munich and Germany number one Manuel Neuer when he was at Schalke.
Once David Moyes’ dreadful reign as Manchester United boss started in the 2013/14, he was called into action more due to Manchester United’s experienced defence turned into shambles which lead to more shots at De Gea then ever before. This lead to some terrific saves throughout the season, although we finished seventh De Gea was still the standout player, which lead to him winning both Player of the Year as well as Player’s Player of the Year. The following season looked promising as Dutch manager Louis van Gaal was appointed as Moyes’s successor.
Manchester United had some serious defensive problems that season which meant that David De Gea was in use a lot more than expected and then we began to see the star that we all know and love now. He made some excellent saves throughout the season and practically dragged Manchester United into fourth place, ensuring that we qualified for the Champions League after missing out the previous season. He was once again won both the Players’ Player award and Fan’s Player of the Year award. This is when De Gea was being noticed for being the world class keeper that he is.
This is when De Gea was being noticed for being the world class keeper that he is. So much so that Spanish giants Real Madrid came calling and pursued him all summer. Manchester United were adamant he wouldn’t be sold until the final day of the window. Real Madrid placed a bid of £18 million as well as Keylor Navas, which was accepted by Manchester United but unexpectedly fell through after a bizarre affair with the fax machines not receiving the documents on time. This resulted in De Gea staying at Manchester United and signing a new five-year deal having only had 12 months remaining on his previous one.
After missing the first four games of the season with the transfer fiasco with Madrid still going on, he started to play. He remained in great form from the previous season, saving United from dropping points again and again. Although he was still playing great, he wasn’t called into action as much due to Manchester United fixing their defensive issues with Daley Blind playing at centre back, Luke Shaw returning to form and new signing Matteo Darmian all playing incredibly well for the start of the season. After goals were hard to come by throughout the season, David De Gea saved Manchester United from finishing in an even more embarrassing place than fifth place. Throughout the season he kept 15 clean sheets in the league alone. He also helped Manchester United win their first FA Cup in 11 years, saving a crucial penalty against Everton in the semi-final.
According to reports, David De Gea was set to leave Manchester United if Louis van Gaal remained in charge as boss but this didn’t happen as Jose Mourinho was appointed, which made De Gea to change his mind about joining Madrid even though he had a €45 million clause which would allow him to join Madrid if the fee was paid but it had an expiry date which soon passed after De Gea revealed to agent Jorge Mendes that he wants to work under Mourinho.
Now with De Gea set to remain at the club, fans need to realise how lucky they are to have him in the squad. When looking at all the different goalkeepers around the world, there’s only ever two being debated at the top of the chain. That being Neuer and De Gea. Whatever your opinion may be, David De Gea is in the top two goalkeepers in the world and is still incredibly young, meaning he can improve even further. If he were to stay at the club, he would be up there with United greats Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Saar.
Goalkeepers can save you lots of points across the season, especially if they’re world class like De Gea they can save you around 10-15. This is something David De Gea has done over the last two years, saving Manchester United from even more embarrassment. If you look into the market of goalkeepers, not many could replace him and do what he has done for Manchester United, he is one of a kind and that is one of the many reasons as to why we are lucky to have De Gea between the sticks for many more years to come, hopefully.