One man’s boon is another man’s bane. Or in this case, one man’s bitter disappointment is another man’s window of opportunity.
Make no mistake: David de Gea is genuinely disappointed and feels true sympathy for Victor Valdes as the Barcelona goalkeeper has been ruled out of all footballing action for the next seven months.
The 32-year-old suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage during the Blaugrana’s 3-0 win against Celta Vigo at Camp Nou in late March. The knee injury will force him to miss the rest of the 2013-14 campaign as well as the World Cup in Brazil in June.
This has opened up a place in the reigning European and world champions Spain’s 23-man squad. Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas, Valdes and Pepe Reina, currently on loan at Napoli from Liverpool, are La Roja coach Vicente del Bosque’s three goalkeepers, others don’t even get a look.
However, with Valdes out, Del Bosque will need a replacement and De Gea’s name is in the hat.
The Manchester United custodian struggled in his first season in the Premier League in 2011-12 after two glorious years at Atletico Madrid where he established himself as one of the finest young shot-stoppers in the game. Midway through last season, the 23-year-old started to regain his confidence and is now easily one of the top five between the posts in the English top flight.
“Well, Victor Valdes has picked up an injury and the first thing to say is that’s an absolute shame and not something you’d wish on anybody, least of all him,” De Gea wrote on Facebook when asked by a United fan on his chances of playing for Spain at the World Cup.
“It’s an awful situation but perhaps it might open a door for me to be at the World Cup.”
Amazingly, De Gea has yet to earn his first cap for Spain, so blessed are the Iberian nation in pretty much every department of their squad. He has featured for his country at every single youth level, but has found the door to the senior closed because of the competition.
Perhaps this is the time when De Gea finally makes his long-awaited international debut. Casillas will remain the uncontested number one for Del Bosque in South America in the summer, but earning a place on the Spain bench itself will be a success for the United keeper.