David de Gea has been the subject of great scrutiny at Manchester United this summer.
While the 31-year-old might have returned to his pre-2018 World Cup levels in terms of shot-stopping last season, questions continue to be asked about his distribution and command of the penalty area.
With the arrival of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford, the impetus on possession football has been dialled up to new heights, applying the pressure on De Gea to start flowing moves from deep with his footwork.
De Gea under scrutiny
Whether that’s short passes in the 12-yard box or diagonal balls slicing the pitch in half, De Gea needs to be channelling his inner Paul Scholes if he wants to help realise Ten Hag’s vision at the club.
But there’s plenty of worrying evidence to suggest that De Gea simply isn’t up to scratch when it comes to the fancy footwork that goalkeepers like Ederson and Alisson Becker have come to perfect.
Plus, lest we also forget that Dean Henderson – who United loaned out to Nottingham Forest this season – happens to be one of the Premier League‘s best goalkeepers with the ball at his feet.
As such, you could certainly forgive Ten Hag for feeling thoroughly frustrated when De Gea dropped a wobbly performance during United’s opening weekend defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion.
With the Red Devils boss having already given De Gea a piece of his mind regarding distribution in pre-season, he must surely have been fuming with certain elements of his number one’s display on Sunday.
De Gea’s worrying performance vs Brighton
There were more than a few occasions during the Premier League defeat where De Gea simply didn’t deliver the goods with his footwork, conceding possession with wayward long passes and often dilly-dallying on the ball in his own penalty area.
Marry that to some supporters face-palming at the sight of De Gea’s half-hearted attempts to get across his six-yard box for Pascal Gross’ opening goal, and it’s fair to say that it was an alarming performance.
So much so, in fact, that a brutal compilation by Twitter user @SeazonDeano has already amassed hundreds of retweets and thousands of ‘likes’ for exposing the worst parts of De Gea’s Brighton display.
A damning 76-second watch that even features a split-screen comparison with Henderson, it paints a worrying picture of De Gea’s form between the sticks for United, so be sure to check it out down below:
David de Gea vs Brighton 🧤🇪🇸— ︎Deano fan🇬🇧™️ (@SeazonDeano) August 7, 2022
Improved keeper under a new manager?! pic.twitter.com/fwRenKx5G5
Ouch. That’s got to sting.
It’s hard to look at the way De Gea navigated a lot of the situations he was presented with against Brighton and honestly say that he took the best approach.
Is De Gea the man for Ten Hag?
Now, the fact that the video was posted by a Henderson fan account and that viral montages can often be edited in a way to favour whichever narrative it is that you’re pedalling, means that you should take the compilation with a pinch of salt.
However, many of the moments included within the video are indeed illustrative of wider issues regarding De Gea’s strengths and weaknesses that Ten Hag will have to think long and hard about going forward.
While there’s reason to believe that De Gea might be the best shot-stopper in the entire division, you’ve probably got to concede that Henderson has far more relevant strengths to Ten Hag’s brand of football.
As such, don’t be surprised to see De Gea’s performances put under the microscope as we maraud deeper and deeper into the season because how he reacts from here on out could influence his entire future at the club.
De Gea is a top, top goalkeeper, nothing less, but there are most certainly areas of his game that need improving.