The 22-year-old Spanish stopper arrived at Old Trafford from Athletico Madrid in 2011 replacing Edwin van der Sar. His first season in England was marred by a number of naïve and unconvincing performances for United who lost the title to Manchester City in 2011/12.
This season, he started off shaky – his tendency to punch instead of catch drew criticism from fans and pundits alike along with a number of dubious decisions and a lack of aerial command and presence in the box on set-pieces had the rumour mill speculating that he would be shipped out by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson in January.
However, since then he’s improved dramatically and has been part of a United defensive unit that looks set to reclaim the title this term. His performance against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu this year was undoubtedly his best display in a Red Devils shirt to date – Jose Mourinho said as much in his post-match interview.
His decision-making is still a little haphazard at times but he has emerged as a excellent shot-stopper – his reflexes and his unconventionally saves (numerous times with his feet, rather than hands) have now earned him praise from the same commentators and analysts who wrote him off before Christmas.
He earned himself a call up to the Spanish national team and now reportedly being headhunted by Barcelona, amongst others, whilst Ferguson is keen to keep him at Old Trafford.
What a difference three months makes in top tier football. He has developed so fast it’s almost like he’s a different player – you can tell in his body language and demeanour there is a confidence there that was missing last year.
He will, from this point forward, continue to develop into a world-class goalkeeper such is his exceptional potential. United should definitely keep him and I imagine he will repay the faith shown in him by the manager and the fans tenfold as he easily has another decade and a half of top-flight football.
If the boss can just stick with him whilst he matures and refines, he will have himself one of the best number ones in the world in just a few years time. He will make more mistakes and there will be bad days at the office yet for David De Gea but there’s only one way to learn – by playing.
United could buy an Asmir Begovic or a Simon Mignolet but I don’t think they will. Why would they, when they have the future Spain number one? Patience is a virtue, as Sir Alex Ferguson knows all too well. I fully expect United to stand by their man.
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