Manuel Neuer was universally regarded as the best goalkeeper in world football until last season.
The Bayern Munich and German number one, who turned 30 last week, hasn’t declined or lost any of his world-class ability - it’s just that he now faces stiff competition from Manchester United’s David de Gea.
The Spanish shot-stopper has been outstanding over the past couple of seasons for the Red Devils and some football fans believe he has now surpassed Neuer.
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De Gea owes a huge amount to Manchester United for sticking with him through the difficult times and helping him realise his potential.
And it was his immense potential that convinced Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him back in June 2011, following his impressive performances as a raw but talented youngster at Atletico Madrid.
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Ferguson reveals why he opted for De Gea
Speaking to Sky Sports, Ferguson revealed that he wanted to sign Neuer, who was with Schalke at the time, but opted instead for De Gea on the advice of former Manchester United goalkeeper coach Eric Steele.
"Eric Steele had been scouting David de Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke. And I think Schalke would've been happy if we'd have gone and taken him.
“So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take de Gea. I said 'but Eric, the boy Neuer is the complete unit; he's mature, his physique is unbelievable', and he says 'yeah, but in three years' time, de Gea will be better'.
“I said ‘that’s a statement’.
"Eric and I went out to watch him [de Gea] against Valencia away, and the things he'd been speaking about - his agility, his confidence, his speed - were evident.
"And Eric had been building a relationship with his parents, and was so adamant, that I had to trust him - and I'm glad I did, because he was right."
Video: Ferguson on De Gea
Scroll to 14:10 in the video...
Can United keep De Gea?
Ferguson added that he believes De Gea is now the best goalkeeper in the world “in many departments” and was no doubt delighted, like every other Manchester United fan, after he put pen-to-paper on a new four-year contract in September after his proposed transfer to Real Madrid collapsed at the last minute.
However, rumours are rife that De Gea’s current deal contains a release clause that the Spanish giants could activate this summer.
Real Madrid already boast a first-class goalkeeper in the form of Keylor Navas, one of the standout players at the Bernabeu this season, but could make another move for De Gea if United fail to secure Champions League football for next season.
Man Utd fans: would you rather have David de Gea or Manuel Neuer? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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