David de Gea has recently said that he feels he’s in the best form of his entire career and his performances for both club and country over the past few weeks have certainly backed that up.
He produced yet another match-winning performance in Spain’s 1-0 victory over Ukraine on Monday behind a team that was missing the likes of Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and Diego Costa.
De Gea pulled off numerous incredible saves to preserve his clean sheet and deservedly took the lion’s share of the plaudits after the game. In the wake of his most recent world-class display, this article provides reasons why De Gea is good enough to be the world’s best goalkeeper and also comments on how far away the Spaniard is from German international Manuel Neuer.
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DE GEA’S QUALITIES
It’s easy to forget that David de Gea’s Manchester United career didn’t get off to the best of starts when you admire the class act that he is today. He was often bullied in his box by the opposition and as a consequence of his shaky start he’s had to become physically stronger to cope with the nature of English football.
De Gea has been Man United’s Player of the Year for the past two seasons and many believe that he alone secured Louis van Gaal’s men a top-four finish last term. The 24-year-old’s distributional skills are as good as anyone in the world and he’s developed into a world-class shot-stopper with his sharp reflexes and impressive diving range.
After a lengthy and dramatic transfer saga with Real Madrid this summer De Gea was only minutes away from securing a deadline day move back to his hometown but, as everyone knows, the deal fell through. This failed transfer required the Spaniard to show great character and he’s been mentally strong enough to dust himself down, sign a new long-term contract with Man United and rediscover his very best form (having not played for United before the closure of the transfer window).
MANUEL STILL THE WORLD’S BEST
There is no doubt in my mind that Germany and Bayern Munich star Manuel Neuer is the best goalkeeper in the world. Not only is the 29-year-old an unbelievable shot-stopper but he is a leader and he has the technical ability of a midfield playmaker when he’s on the ball. He bosses his penalty area, commands the men in front of him like no one else and as aforementioned, he has the technique and vision to start his team’s attacks.
Over the past five years, he truly has revolutionised and redefined the role of the goalkeeper with his sweeper-keeping style. In that time, Neuer has become both a Champions League and World Cup winner and his individual quality was highlighted with a 2015 Ballon d’Or nomination alongside Lionel Messi and eventual winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
COMPARISONS WITH NEUER
One of the most impressive features of Neuer’s game is the sheer fear that he instils into opposition forwards just through his mere presence. When you look at someone approaching Neuer’s goal, you get the feeling that they themselves do not believe that they’re going to score.
That’s not because the angle may be too tight or because there are lots of bodies in between them and the goal (for example), it’s because they don’t think that they are good enough to get the ball past a keeper of Neuer’s capabilities.
In my opinion, this quality of dominance in one-on-one situations is something that De Gea has developed over the past couple of seasons at Old Trafford. Strikers on the other team now know how good De Gea is and they understand that he has the talent to stop almost everything that is thrown at him.
Earlier this week the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson labelled Neuer and De Gea as “the Messi and Ronaldo of goalkeeping”, and not many would disagree with the former Manchester United manager regarding that.
CAN DE GEA BE THE BEST?
De Gea has made the No. 1 jersey his own at Old Trafford and he is the clear successor to Iker Casillas as Spain’s first-choice goalkeeper going forward. He is becoming a true inspiration to all football fans around the world and at the age of just 24, De Gea easily has 10-15 more years in the game to further improve.
For the time being Neuer is unquestionably the best in the world but De Gea is most definitely the German’s biggest contender for that distinguished title. Neuer is five years older than De Gea, so it’s more than likely that a period of time will come in which United’s Spanish saviour becomes the unrivalled number one goalkeeper in world football.