Dean Henderson, 22, has not yet played a competitive match for Manchester United but his form for each loan club he has played for; Stockport County, Grimsby Town, Shrewsbury Town and now Sheffield United, has risen each time which saw him play in the National League North, League Two, League One, the Championship and now the Premier League. This season, he’s staking a claim for club and country.
In the Premier League this season (2019/20) Henderson has kept nine clean sheets for the Blades, level with Liverpool’s Allison and Burnely’s Nick Pope. United’s number one, David De Gea, 29, has just five clean sheets in the Premier League this season, which does not necessarily mean that Henderson is a better goalkeeper but at 22, his class is rising and could cause problems for the Spanish number one.
Both Henderson and De Gea have played 25 times in the league this season, both players have made 65 saves, have two yellow cards, however, Henderson has a 75.58% save success with De Gea having just 69.15%. Henderson have faced two penalties – saving one with De Gea facing one and not saving it. Henderson has made 11 punches, 15 high claims and five sweeper clearances with De Gea having five punches, four high claims and three sweeper clearances.
De Gea has conceded a total of 29 goals in the Premier League alone this season with Henderson conceding just 21 – he has made 20 clearances himself – two of them headed, compared to De Gea’s 11 winning 14 aerial battles, compared to De Gea’s seven. Henderson has made one error leading to goal with De Gea making two. Of course, this does not mean one goalkeeper is better than the other as both are completely different.
However, it does underline Henderson’s quality. De Gea is better at distribution with 73.24% of his passes meeting a teammate and Henderson having 34.25% reach a teammate. Henderson has played 137 times in the past five seasons, albeit on loan, playing a lot of first team football. His time came when playing for Shrewsbury Town during the 2017/18 season, helping guide them to the League One play-offs beating Charlton Athletic 2-0 on aggregate to face Rotherham United in the final, losing 2-1 after extra time.
The following season (2018/19), United found him a place in the Championship with Sheffield United, helping them finish second taking automatic promotion to the Premier League. Norwich City were the champions with Aston Villa winning the championship play-off that season. Henderson has been lauded by many, including Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager who is desperate to re-sign him again next season, saying:
“It won’t be on a permanent basis, definitely not. His future is at Manchester United, no doubt.
“If the opportunity came about that figure would be huge. If the opportunity comes about that we could get him back on loan next season we’d be all over that.”
Before Henderson went out on loan at the start of the season, he signed a new two-year contract at United which is due to expire in the summer of 2022, although there is an option to add another year on that contract, which would, in effect, give him two more years at United after this season. Based on what the 22-year-old said on signing his contract it would seem that he envisages playing for United, doing enough to get him noticed and into the team. He said:
“The club has been amazing in designing an individual pathway to aid my development which will enable me to reach my potential and perform at the highest level possible.
“Signing this contract is such a proud moment for myself and my family; I’ve worked so hard to reach this point and I want to do everything I can to repay the faith the club has shown in me.
“I am looking forward to being back at Bramall Lane, the opportunity to be reunited with the coaches and play in front of the amazing fans again is one that I am relishing.
“I cannot wait to enjoy a full season of Premier League football which I know will be hugely beneficial for my career.”
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to view the player fondly also, suggesting that he has a great future ahead of him also speaking of his delight in the player signing a new contract at United. I am sure Solskjaer has Henderson in mind when it comes to the future of the club, and with rumours suggesting Sergio Romero could leave this summer plus the expiry of Lee Grant’s contract, he could be brought into the first team if Sheffield United do not get him on loan again. Solskjaer said:
“Dean [Henderson] had a fantastic season at Sheffield United and has a big future ahead of him so I am delighted that he has signed this contract.
“He is another top-level talent that has come through the Academy to continue the proud tradition of producing players capable of playing in the first team.
“We have great faith in Dean’s ability; he has huge potential and his spirit and passion will stand him in good stead this year. We wish Dean the best of luck with his loan move.
“The opportunity to play a full season of Premier League football is perfect for his development.”
Last season in the Championship, Henderson won the golden glove, keeping 21 clean sheets, two more than Middlesbrough goalkeeper, now at West Ham United, Darren Randolph. This shows his talent, especially in his first season playing in the Championship. It is only right, especially after his season so far in the Premier League, that United keep their eyes on Henderson with a view of the player seeking to take over from De Gea, which might bring the best out of both players if they are both up for the challenge.
Over the past few days, Henderson has talked up his chances of representing England ahead and possibly during Euro 2020 this summer. It would certainly top off a few good seasons for the player. England manager Gareth Southgate will have a lot to think about ahead of the tournament, especially considering the form of current number one, Jordan Pickford. Henderson was quoted as saying:
“Hopefully I can nail down my position in the Euros squad, first and foremost. Being ambitious like I am, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, I’ve got my eyes on the shirt.
“I’ve just got to keep performing, keep doing well and hopefully get an opportunity because you can’t prove anything without an opportunity, then see where we are in the summer.
“Obviously there are three great goalkeepers. We’ve got a great group and it’s going to be a great battle for the shirt. Hopefully towards the summer it could be very interesting to see who gets the nod.“
Henderson seems level headed but he also knows what he is capable of, which based on his rise from playing in the National League North right the way to the Premier League, it is plain to see that the lad has talent to achieve his dreams. Playing for United could come in the summer or beyond but playing for England could well be on the cards this year. It would be good to see him playing for his country.
England have four matches arranged before Euro 2020; Italy, Denmark, Austria and Romania so Henderson, if called up could have the time to put himself into contention for Southgate’s squad for the tournament. Tom Heaton will be on the sidelines for much of the year, Henderson could be picked as the third-choice goalkeeper and he will need to show that he can do better than both Pickford and Nick Pope. He won’t shy away from the challenge so there is nothing stopping him from becoming the first choice goalkeeper for both club and country.