Are David De Gea's days at Manchester United numbered?

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It’s that time of the week again when Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea finds himself under intense media pressure, this time following his failure to clear a cross leading to Tottenham’s last-gasp equaliser on Sunday.

The Telegraph even reported that United would be willing to let the Spaniard go amidst concerns of his ability to adapt to the demands of the English game. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are both said to be monitoring the situation.

The process of replacing Edwin van der Sar was always going to be tough and United were faced with the choice of making investment in the future or opting for the quick-fix in a more experienced keeper for short-term success for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.

United chose the former option in the form of a young goalkeeper bursting to the brim with potential, with De Gea having already clocked up more than 50 first-team appearances for Atletico Madrid, winning a Europa League winners medal by the time United made him Britain’s most expensive goalkeeper. 

At just 20-years-old and already touted as Iker Casillas' long-term replacement for the Spanish national side, he came to England with huge credentials but obvious short-term flaws, none more so than his nationality. 

Brought through the ranks at Atletico and having never played outside Spain, De Gea was raised on a game where possession is king, crosses into the box are infrequent and pressure on the goalkeeper rarer still.

It was always going to be something of a culture shock for the young man and he’s not the only one to find it tough, truth be told fellow Spaniard Pepe Reina has always struggled against the ball in the box despite eight years and nearly 300 appearances for Liverpool. 

Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson has gone as far to suggest in an interview with talkSport that there isn’t a goalkeeper in “world football who looks confident and capable of dealing with the speed of the modern cross, with the amount of players that are allowed to bustle in and hang on to you.”

De Gea has undoubtedly found the transition from La Liga to the Premier League tough, struggling to adapt to both the physicality of the English game and the intense media scrutiny that comes with playing for a club challenging for the highest honours, especially when following in the footsteps of Edwin van Der Sar, but should any of this come as the surprise it seems to be?

United have been constantly linked with Stoke’s Asmir Begovic of late, who has a wealth of experience in the Premier League and at 6”5 is better suited to the rough and tumble but is still to be tested at the top level. 

The other contender appears to be Fernando Muslera of Galatasary with the Uruguayan having some Champions League experience already under his belt. But he would be far from a sure-fire success and Ferguson will be loath to lose someone of De Gea’s potential with no obvious alternative, especially having already seen Gerard Pique blossom at Barcelona after leaving Old Trafford at a young age.

Ultimately, now is a time when Ferguson needs to call upon one of his strongest traits and stand by his convictions. The decision to sign the young Spaniard was a strong one taken with the future in mind, a period of adjustment and errors are inevitable and will become unacceptable if he fails to learn from them, but now is the time to back the boy with the potential to be the best in the world not throw this goalkeeping baby out with the bathwater.


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