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David de Gea and Dean Henderson – Summer 2021 plans?

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The 2021 summer transfer window will be a crucial one for Manchester United for several reasons. One of the notable decisions to be made this summer is a decision regarding the goalkeeping situation. It was a strange decision to bring back Dean Henderson after his loan had expired at Sheffield United, as it was a rare case of two top goalkeepers being in the same squad at the same time. In the early parts of the season, the competition seemed to be helping Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, as his form improved drastically when compared to the two seasons prior.

As of April 2nd, long-time United servant David de Gea has only registered one error leading to a goal in the Premier League this season, an improvement on seven errors leading to goals in the 2018/19 and the 2019/20 seasons. A large section of the United fanbase has grown impatient with de Gea since the 2018 World Cup when he made notable errors on the big stage. Dean Henderson on the other hand has had a meteoric rise, displaying impressive performances in his two seasons at Bramall Lane, becoming a fan favourite for the Sheffield United faithful.

Henderson is a great shot-stopper, and a very confident character, believing he has what it takes to make it to the very top with both Manchester United and the England national team. Henderson has been utilized mostly as a second-choice goalkeeper this season, racking up appearances across the cup competitions. Recently, with the birth of David de Gea’s first child, Henderson has been given a run of games to fill in for the absent de Gea. During the run of games Henderson has been given, the outlook from the fanbase has been mostly positive, as his commanding character has been impressive when in goal.

Though he has been questioned at times, for example, AC Milan’s late equalizer at Old Trafford in the Europa League, and his overall performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals, where he was expected to do better on several instances. Despite his errors, which are only natural as he is a young goalkeeper, Henderson has produced outstanding performances in a United shirt, most notably in the 2-0 Manchester Derby win, and also in United’s 1-0 round of 16 triumph in the Europa League versus AC Milan, where he produced a world-class save from a Zlatan Ibrahimovic header. 

At the moment, it is difficult to predict the future of Manchester United’s goalkeepers. As many fans do not believe in de Gea’s ability anymore, an option is to sell the Spaniard. This may be a strenuous option, as de Gea reportedly earns a wage in excess of 350 thousand pounds per week. With his evident decline and his monstrous wages, it is difficult to imagine a club coming in to sign him, and if United choose to do so, it will be a poor decision from an economic standpoint. A more sensible choice of action regarding this situation would be to sell Dean Henderson, with the inclusion of a buy-back clause in the deal.

This choice would benefit the club in many forms, mainly letting Henderson develop further, getting a good amount of game time, and being polished for the day that comes when de Gea inevitably leaves the club. David de Gea is far from finished at the top level and could provide another couple of years of solid goalkeeping at United, as evidence from the 2020-21 season suggests. Ultimately, it is United’s call on what to do with these fantastic goalkeepers, with many other unmentioned options that could either benefit the club or be a detriment to the club.

Written by Ashkan Shomeil

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