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David De Gea subject to head turning; maybe it won’t work again!

Cast your mind back to the end of the 2014/15 season. Victor Valdes made his debut against Arsenal, replacing an injured David De Gea at Old Trafford, with the Spaniard applauding as he walked off the pitch with an injury, seemingly his last time doing so. The speculation linking De Gea with a summer move to Real Madrid was rife, Manchester United supporters thought they had seen the last of the player who was brought in to replace Edwin van der Sar, looking like he was not going to do that in the early days, but stepping up and filling the void. The move to Madrid was going through on Deadline Day in Spain, but the paperwork did not go through and the move fell through, leaving the Spanish goalkeeper in limbo as to whether he would be accepted by the Old Trafford faithful, sitting out the start of the 2015/16 season. De Gea then signed a new contract, which would keep him at the Theatre of Dreams until the summer of 2019, with the option of a further year to be added. United had won the battle, but was the war over yet? Speaking about his new contract at the time, De Gea said:

“I am delighted to be starting this new chapter in my United career. I have always enjoyed playing with these great players in front of our fantastic fans. Manchester United is a special club and Old Trafford is an ideal place for me to continue to develop my career. I’m looking forward to putting a difficult summer behind me and concentrating on working hard to improve and help my teammates to be successful.”

De Gea had never, at least publicly, stated his desire to leave United for Madrid, but the fact he was doing just that, in effect stated that was what he wanted to happen, at least at that time, anyway. The Spaniard in signing his new contract, which was his only real option at the time, secured himself into the future of United, earning himself another chance to reach the dizzy heights he career had so far, at least under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. De Gea could now put Madrid into the back of his mind and fight for United, aiming to take them back to the pinnacle of English football, then aiming to reach the pinnacle of European football once again. Despite the club not faring well in the Premier League, outside of the top four, Louis van Gaal’s side finished fifth in the league, earning a UEFA Europa League group stage place and winning the Emirates FA Cup, for the twelfth time, twelve years after their last success in the domestic competition. Under the guidance of Van Gaal though, was something De Gea and other teammates were not happy about.

Hours after winning the FA Cup, rumours were rife that the Dutchman would be sacked, confirmation of that coming a day later. Jose Mourinho, at the time hotly tipped to replace Van Gaal, replaced him by signing a three-year contract. Mourinho confirmed that he had convinced De Gea to remain at the Theatre of Dreams, looking towards the future in order to reanimate the then flatlining United side, guiding them to greatness once again, or at least that was the plan, but possibly more of a long-term plan. Last summer, Mourinho excited the supporters, the players and the clubs hierarchy by signing Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Paul Pogba all despite not managing a club playing in the pinnacle of European competitions, which shows the lure of the club and more importantly the manager himself, despite being sacked by Chelsea months earlier. Mourinho was the man to lead United into attack again after David Moyes, Ryan Giggs, albeit interim and Louis van Gaal had all failed before.

David De Gea had the chance to earn his plaudits once again from a manager considered as on the best currently in the game. Mourinho is a winner, a manager capable of getting the best from his players, perhaps not like Ferguson did, but something the previous managers were not able to do. The season started well for United and De Gea, winning the first four matches, lifting the first silverware under Mourinho in the FA Community Shield, but then suffering three defeats in a row before finding their way again and winning the EFL Cup back in February. Things have been tough at times for United and De Gea this season, but not as tough as they were immediately following the retirement of Ferguson. This season De Gea has been playing well, but long gone are the days where he would be a contender for the Manchester United Player of the Year award, something he had won for three seasons in a row from the 2013/14 season. This season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba, among others will probably go head-to-head for the award, leaving De Gea out of the spotlight, which will make him happy.

De Gea is a great player, but having a goalkeeper as the Player of the Year, especially for three seasons running, shows that there was nobody more special at the club, despite the achievements made by the Spaniard. De Gea is still a player I would like to see at the club, as would you, Mourinho and his United teammates. But Real Madrid may still be looking to win the war after losing out in their battle two years ago. We know De Gea would like a move back to Madrid, something his girlfriend would like also. But would it be something anyone else would want? There are suggestions, from polls in Spain that the Real Madrid faithful, if you can call them that, would not want De Gea at the club. That poll did not include another goalkeeper, though. That might be enough for United to keep the Spaniard again, reneging yet another attempt from Real Madrid to take a top player from the Theatre of Dreams, but would they be back for the third time? Manchester United will be looking to offer the 26-year-old a more lucrative contract, which could see him as one of the top earners at the club.

De Gea will have two-years remaining on his current contract this summer, with an option to add a third year to that, but securing De Gea to another new contract will be something Mourinho and United will be looking to do, securing the future for one of, if not the best goalkeeper in the world right now to new terms. It is currently suggested that De Gea is on £200,000 per week, with a new deal seemingly taking him closer to £300,000 per week, which may just show how much the player is rated by the club, the manager, his teammates and more importantly the clubs supporters. There are suggestions in the media that United are prepared to let De Gea leave too, as long as their £66 million asking price is matched, something which may deter Real Madrid as he will not emerge as a player similar to the stature of Cristiano Ronaldo did eight years ago. It could well be that De Gea remains with United heading into the new season, which is what many will want as replacing a goalkeeper is never the easiest and United had problems in De Gea’s early days with Ferguson sticking by him, which worked out well.

The prospects of the summer transfer window may well keep De Gea interested as United are hotly linked to the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Jose Gimenez and Kylian Mbappe, which may well work out for Mourinho and United in some or all of those players moving to the Theatre of Dreams, United could do with the creativity, attacking power and the defensive ability contained within all four players, which would go a long way to see United progress as Premier League title contenders next season, hopefully playing in the pinnacle European competition too. Mourinho will have other plans should he need to shop for a new goalkeeper, but with the likes of Sergio Romero, who has played well in the cup competitions this season, waiting in the wings, and Portuguese youngster Joel Pereira, United may well have a starting point in securing the back, should that option need to be endured. United will be in good hands with or without David De Gea, should he decide that Madrid is the destination for him, but choosing Manchester over Madrid will be the better decision.

International Reds: Martial scores, Pogba runs the show and De Gea keeps a clean sheet

Manchester United had six players selected for internationals on Thursday evening with David De Gea and Juan Mata representing Spain against Belgium, with Marouane Fellaini on the sidelines through an injury sustained against Hull City at the weekend. Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba represented France against Italy, with Matteo Darmian and Morgan Schneiderlin unselected to represent their countries. Daley Blind faced Greece with the Netherlands and Antonio Valencia represented Ecuador as his country faced Brazil. Here is how I feel the Manchester United players fared during their time on the pitch for their countries on Thursday evening.

David De Gea – Belgium 0-2 Spain

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea started in the 2-0 victory over Roberto Martinez’ Belgium in their friendly ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers next week. De Gea played 90 minutes in the victory. The Spaniard flapped at an early cross, which gave the home side a chance, which did not come off. De Gea was largely solid for the remainder of the match, something he has been for United for the past three seasons. Spain scored in the 34th minute through David Silva with Diego Costa assisting in the goal. In the 62nd minute, Spain was awarded a penalty after Jordan Lukaku fouled Vitolo in the box, a player who had been giving the Belgian problems throughout the match. Silva stepped up to take the penalty, making it 2-0 to Spain, which was the final score. The squad will now head into Monday’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein ready to take their first points in their possible qualification for Russia 2018.

Next Match: Liechtenstein – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Monday 5th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Juan Mata – Belgium 0-2 Spain

Juan Mata was an unused substitute in the 2-0 victory over Belgium. The Manchester United midfielder has earned his place back in the Spain squad after some decent performances. Perhaps the midfielder can play against Liechtenstein on Monday?

Next Match: Liechtenstein – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Monday 5th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Anthony Martial – Italy 1-3 France

Anthony Martial played the first half in the 3-1 victory over Italy on Thursday evening. In the 17th minute of the match, the Manchester United forward scored his first goal for his country after a sublime through ball from teammate Paul Pogba. Martial’s finish from close range came after the player running behind the defensive line, latching onto the Pogba pass, seeing Giorgio Chiellini miss with his attempted interception, burying his shot past Gianluigi Buffon into the bottom corner of the net. The goal will come to much relief of the player and the Manchester United supporters after his stuttered start to the new season. He will have put himself into the manager’s plans to face Belarus on Tuesday evening to get their Russia 2018 qualification hopes started with a bang.

Next Match: Belarus – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Tuesday 6th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Paul Pogba – Italy 1-3 France

Manchester United’s world record signing Paul Pogba played 90 minutes in the 3-1 victory over Italy on Thursday evening. The Frenchman assisted for United teammate Anthony Martial in the 17th minute of the match with a sublime through ball, with Martial tucking it past Buffon to take his country 1-0 up, scoring his first goal for France. With France 2-1 up and cruising after a second scored by Olivier Giroud four minutes after Martial’s goal, assisted by Layvin Kurzawa, France made some changes to test the squad depth with them looking to qualify for Russia 2018 after their heartbreak in the European Championships in the summer. Pogba played well, doing what he does best, something he was criticised for during the summer, despite him playing well for much of the tournament. The Frenchman was again the provider for the third goal, nine minutes from time and Kurzawa the goalscorer and France being home and dry against the Italian side. Paul Pogba will most likely start against Belarus on Tuesday, a match which will mean more than this one.

Next Match: Belarus – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Tuesday 6th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Daley Blind – Netherlands 1-2 Greece

Daley Blind played 90 minutes in the 2-1 defeat to Greece in their friendly on Thursday evening. The Dutchman started in the centre of defence, just like he has for Manchester United last season and the start of the current season. In the 14th minute of the match, the home side took the lead through Georginio Wijnaldum after Greece gave the ball away in a dangerous position, with the Netherlands taking advantage and going 1-0 to the good. The lead was short-lived as Konstantinos Mitroglou, assisted by Vassilis Torosidis  equalised 15 minutes later. Blind will not have been happy with his teammates to concede that goal, which could have been countered. The home side had a few chances, which should have been taken, with Wesley Sneijder and Vincent Janssen. Greece took the lead in the 74th minute through Giannis Gianniotas. The home side was beaten with few chances coming after the second Greece goal, but that will not stop them in their attempts to get the better of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-less Sweden on Tuesday, which could get their aims of qualification for Russia 2018 started.

Next Match: Sweden – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Tuesday 6th September 2016, KO 19:45 BST

Antonio Valencia – Ecuador 0-3 Brazil

Antonio Valencia was missing from the squad in the 2-0 defeat to Brazil in their FIFA World Cup qualifier on Thursday evening. The only goal of the match came in the 72nd minute of the match after Brazil was awarded a penalty for a foul in the box. Neymar stepped up to put his side ahead just weeks after winning a gold medal in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. This was Brazil’s second win in eight World Cup qualification matches. Ecuador had a player sent off in the 76th minute, and despite the fact they were down to ten men and 1-0 down, they were playing well. Brazil struck against through Gabriel Jesus, assisted by Marcelo. Gabriel Jesus scored again in the closing minutes of the match, with an assist by Neymar. Ecuador needs to ensure they beat Peru on Wednesday in their next qualification match or it could possibly put them out of the race to earn a place at the World Cup in Russia, although there are plenty of matches to play yet.

Next Match: Peru – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Wednesday 7th September 2016, KO 03:15 BST

The arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic boosted the entire club, says David De Gea

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has said that the arrival Zlatan Ibrahimovic has given Manchester United a massive boost. For the last three seasons, United have dipped in form – relying on De Gea on many occasions to keep them in matches. The Spanish goalkeeper won the Player of the Year award at the club for the past three seasons, which helps to show his role at the club during that time. United are due a change of luck, and so far the arrival of Jose Mourinho as the club’s new manager, it could be the start of the luck change. Pre-season has not been great for United after many of their key players being absent due to participation in the European Championships and Copa America this summer – beating Wigan Athletic 2-0 with a youthful side, losing 4-1 to Borussia Dortmund in China with a side who were not as fit as the German side, the cancelled Manchester City match then the 5-2 demolition of Galatasaray in Sweden on Saturday.

This summer, Jose Mourinho has made three signings; Eric Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with more reportedly on the way. The 34-year-old former Sweden international is the boost De Gea was talking about as his confidence and winning mentality seem to have changed everything – so far at least. United have lacked leadership on the pitch recently, also that drive to get forward and find goals through any measure, which was seemingly restricted by former manager Louis van Gaal. United will benefit from the added quality at the club this season, especially is Ibrahimovic can replicate his form with Paris Saint-Germain last season, where he scored 50 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions – his best season yet. Speaking to MUTV, which was reported by Sky Sports News HQ, De Gea said:

“It’s really good to have Zlatan already here, training with the team. You can see he’s a top player, he’s massive, very big, with a lot of quality and of course he is a top striker. I think he will settle in very quickly. You can look and it seems like he has been playing here many years already and the same with the other guys we’ve signed.

“They are playing really well, their training has been top and I think that we have signed really good players. That gives us more energy when you see players like them coming to Manchester and now we have to train together, trying to be fit as soon as possible and now we’re going to play the first game against Leicester City with the Community Shield up for grabs.”

Manchester United will be looking to get back to winning ways this season. There are two more matches to play before the season proper starts with an away trip to Bournemouth a week on Sunday, a fixture United lost 2-1 last season. United face Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial, before facing Premier League champions Leicester City at Wembley to contest the FA Community Shield, which could be Jose Mourinho’s first trophy in charge of Manchester United – similar to the start to the season for David Moyes back in 2013, but this season should be so much better than that ill-fated one. Manchester United have the winning mentality back, the fear factor is coming back – which will make this season a must to return to the top of the league. Many suggest it will not happen, but Manchester United is not a team you write off!

copyright: JW