Unlike the old days under Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United do not have a large number of world-class players within the squad compared to the likes Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. However, if there is one individual within Jose Mourinho’s team that stands out the most and is always there for when his side need him the most, its goalkeeper David De Gea.
The Spaniard has been at Old Trafford for seven years and counting. And in that time, he has gone from a player with huge prospect and potential to one of the best goalkeepers within the world. Without his brilliance between the goalposts, it is more than fair to say that the side would struggle to finish in the top four of the Premier League as well as seriously challenge in any competition.
Despite his rise from being an error prone goalkeeper to one of the best shot-stoppers in Europe, his early days at the club were moments to forget for De Gea and the Manchester United supporters, as he was seen as a weak individual when up against physical strikers that were dominant in the air. He started to lose confidence in himself and it unfortunately led to a number of fans turning on him.
In his second season at the club, he started to work harder off the pitch in terms of improving his physicality and strength which allowed him to become effective and superior in the air. On top of that, he ended the 2012/13 campaign in incredible fashion as he played a crucial role in the side winning their 20th English league title whilst being nominated as the Goalkeeper of the Season.
Furthermore, the 27-year-old finished the same season on 11 clean sheets and 84 saves produced in 28 league appearances, clearly showing that he was consistently there in the right place and at the right time. Although the end of the campaign was more focused towards the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and how Manchester United cope, the rise of De Gea was slept on for quite a while.
The new and short era under the likes of David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal did not end well, as both managers did not have the mindset and the style of play that was required to manage of one of the most successful clubs in England and Europe. Also, if it was not for the influence and presence of the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper in net, then the club would have suffered an unfortunate decline.
Not only that, but De Gea was seconds away from joining Real Madrid in the summer of 2015, when all of a sudden the paperwork was not submitted before the transfer window had closed due to a fax machine that was playing up at a surprising time. However, since that moment, the Manchester United supporters had learnt to cherish and treasure the devotion and loyalty of the player.
Looking back at the last couple of years, the defence and most importantly the club have been more or less saved by the brilliance of the Spaniard, someone who has never complained about the managerial changes that happened in the past or asked about the direction of which way the club is heading. One simply cannot imagine the situation of the club without Spain’s number one in goal.
Overall, David De Gea has been at the club through thick and thin. His dominant displays on the pitch alongside his pure loyalty and professionalism off it should be rewarded with a huge wage rise that allows him to be paid a figure similar to what the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba earns.