David De Gea's first competitive game for Manchester United came against Manchester City in a 3-2 Community Shield, with the Spaniard's two mistakes in that game marking the start of a difficult first season at Old Trafford. City went on to win the Premier League, and Joe Hart was hailed as among the best keepers in Europe after an excellent year.
As ever with keepers, a change of fortune was just around the corner for both men, and as the end of this season draws near there is a case for saying that not only has De Gea settled at Old Trafford, he has surpassed his English counterpart at Manchester City.
A superb display at Real Madrid in the Champions League showed how good De Gea could be, and the Spaniard's fiery encounter at West Ham, where Andy Carroll did his level best to unsettle him with a mixture of fair means and foul, demonstrated how he had adapted to Premier League football, as for all West Ham's attempts, they could not unsettle De Gea.
He has now completely settled any debate with Anders Lindergaard about who should be number one at Old Trafford, and his next step will be attempting to force himself into the Spanish national team. With Iker Casillas at loggerheads with Jose Mourinho and on the bench at Real Madrid, perhaps for the first time in many years there is a glimmer of hope he could be replaced in the national set up as well.
Meanwhile Hart has suffered from the drop in form that has plagued so many of City's best performers from last season, and the occasional mistake has led to the disproportionate amount of criticism that keepers often receive, Hart is clearly still an excellent keeper, but there is a growing momentum to the idea that De Gea might well now be ready to live up to his £19million price tag, and end up overtaking the England keeper in the process.
image: © James Boyes