Manchester United signed David de Gea for just £18.9m on this day in 2011

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It feels like David de Gea has been guarding the Manchester United goal for decades.

On 29 June 2011, the Spaniard left Atletico Madrid to sign for the Red Devils in an £18.9 million deal.

Despite the fee being a British record for a goalkeeper at the time, it’s difficult to claim it wasn’t an absolute steal.

De Gea has become one of the world’s best in his position and been vital to the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League triumphs United have enjoyed since his arrival.

In fact, his four Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards arguably don’t do justice to his enormous influence at the club.

De Gea’s time at Old Trafford certainly hasn’t been without rough patches, though.

His skinny build fuelled concerns over his ability to cope with the physical nature of English football during his first two seasons at the club.

But as Sir Alex Ferguson refused to lose faith, people began to recognise the value of De Gea’s lightning-quick reflexes and agility between the sticks.

The 2013 departure of the manager who brought the Spaniard to United had little impact on his consistently brilliant form over the ensuing five years.

However, the turbulence of the post-Ferguson era eventually rubbed off on De Gea and he endured a torrid time at the 2018 World Cup.

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His blunder from a Cristiano Ronaldo shot in Spain’s opening match against Portugal set the tone for his performances until Fernando Hierro’s side crashed out of the last 16.

De Gea struggled to shake off the disappointment of Russia when he resumed United duties for the 2018-19 campaign, with the harshest of doubters even claiming he’d never be the same goalkeeper.

The 28-year-old kept only five clean sheets in his first 25 appearances last term and following a brief resurgence in the new year, he was back in the firing line of fans and pundits alike come April.

Although De Gea finished the campaign with 63 goals conceded and just ten clean sheets in all competitions, it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

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He made 184 saves in league action - the third-most in the competition - throughout one of the Red Devils’ poorest seasons in memory.

Fans saw glimpses of the De Gea of old at times, such as his heroic efforts to singlehandedly keep Tottenham at bay and secure a 1-0 win in January.

His 11 saves on that day at Wembley is the most in Premier League history behind the 14 he made at Arsenal 12 months earlier.

While it’s clear De Gea is still capable of deciding results by himself, he’ll be hoping to contribute to a title challenge in the near future rather than scrambling to finish in the top four.

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