David de Gea: Man Utd goalkeeper's importance in 2021/22 highlighted in graphic

David de Gea has saved more expected goals than any other goalkeeper

Manchester United have had a very difficult 2021/22 campaign so far.

From being completely outplayed by Liverpool and Manchester City at home, to being thumped by Watford at Vicarage Road, they have thrown in a number of dismal displays, which ultimately cost Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job last month.

Under interim boss Ralf Rangnick, things seemed to have improved when the side picked up back-to-back wins against Crystal Palace and Norwich in the league, but United were well off the pace again on Monday night away at Newcastle, and were fortunate to leave Tyneside with a point.

Very few players can honestly say that they have performed anywhere near their best this term, but there is one man who can: David de Gea.

At the end of last season, the Spanish goalkeeper was being ridiculed for failing to save a single penalty and then missing his own spot-kick in the team’s Europa League final penalty shootout defeat to Villarreal. It seemed that his days at Old Trafford may be numbered at that point.

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How he has turned things around since then, though. Week after week, he has been pulling off crucial saves to keep his side in matches, and now a graphic has been produced to highlight exactly how important his return to form has been for United.

As reported by The Sun, de Gea is the best goalkeeper in Europe this season when it comes to his ‘post-shot expected goals minus goals allowed’ score (PSxG+), as he has prevented 7.6 expected goals in 2021/22.

Just below de Gea on the list is a fellow Premier League shot-stopper in Jose Sa, who has been a sensational signing for Wolves, with his figure currently standing at +6.7. 

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Four La Liga goalkeepers also feature in the top ten, including Dutch international and former Barcelona man Jasper Cillessen, while AC Milan’s Mike Maignan, who saved a Mohamed Salah penalty in the Champions League in September, currently occupies eighth spot. 

To see the complete top ten, take a look at the image below…

David de Gea has been a shining light for Man United this season

As things stand, United are seven points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, but have two games in hand on the Gunners.

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Without de Gea, their hopes of playing Champions League football next season may well have been dead and buried already, yet he has just about kept them within touching distance of a top four finish.

The 31-year-old has won United’s Player of the Season award on four occasions in the past, and he must be the frontrunner for the accolade again this year after his outstanding performances in recent months. 

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