Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea had admitted that he considered leaving Manchester United during the early stages of his Old Trafford career.
The 23-year-old endured a tough start to his spell with the Red Devils after struggling to cope with the physical nature of the Premier League.
However, with the help of Manchester United coaches, De Gea bulked up, gained confidence and is now widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in England’s top flight.
De Gea admits things could have been different
His stunning performance in the 2-1 win over Everton last Sunday was arguably his finest display since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011, but speaking to reporters this week, De Gea has conceded that things could have been very different.
“Sometimes it was difficult when you get a lot of criticism like I did,” he is quoted as saying by the Guardian. “But I kept strong and I always tried to remain positive. I loved training. It was a great pleasure, so I just did my work and worked through it.
“Those early days were difficult for me and my family. But when you play for a big club like Manchester United it is normal when you don’t play well. Yes I am glad it happened in some ways because the criticism makes you stronger. A goalkeeper is a difficult position and you make mistakes. It is normal. But you have to be strong in your mind to get through it all and get better.”
De Gea pleased with form
De Gea now believes that he is currently in the form of his life - and the majority of United supporters would be inclined to agree with him.
“I think I am playing the best football of my career,” he added. “I have been here for three years and in the beginning it was difficult. Now I am ready for everything.”
Man United want De Gea to sign new deal
Manchester United will now be desperate to tie De Gea down to a long-term contract. The Spain international’s current deal expires in 2016, but reports from earlier this year claimed United were keen to offer a bumper pay rise to the Red Devils’ number one.
De Gea currently earns around £55,000-a-week, but could put pen-to-paper on a new contract in excess of £90,000-per-season in the coming months.
Real Madrid interest
Failure to tie the goalkeeper down to a new contract might tempt Real Madrid to return for the Spanish ace.
The reigning European champions were linked with a move for the £25 million-rated keeper towards the end of last season, but opted instead to sign Costa Rica international Keylor Navas from Levante.
However, Navas has yet to establish himself as Real Madrid’s first-choice goalkeeper under manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has kept faith in the ageing and increasingly unpredictable Iker Casillas.
There’s a real possibility that Ancelotti will begin the hunt for a new number one in the summer - and should De Gea continue to perform heroics at Old Trafford, the Spaniard could be at the very top of the Italian’s wish list.