Match winning saves against Everton and Southampton have been highlights of the 24-year-old’s campaign, but he further elevated himself into stardom on Sunday afternoon, as he claimed the man of the match award in the 3-0 victory over Liverpool. Despite the goalscoring threat of United’s front-line, it was the Spanish ‘keeper who won all the plaudits, as he made eight crucial saves - including three each from Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli.
After a questionable start to life in English football following his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011, De Gea has grown into one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, and, after Sunday’s performance at Old Trafford, he is being held in higher esteem than Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois - who is commonly considered one of the best in the world.
However, whilst the media and Red Devils fans praise De Gea endlessly - as noted by his seven Manchester United Player of the Month awards - there is one man who reportedly chooses to distance himself from the stopper - Louis van Gaal, at least through the eyes of one Spanish outlet.
The newly appointed United head coach has consistently used De Gea as his first choice between the posts, but he often disregards any praise of the Spaniard in post-match media talks. The Dutchman somewhat moves the focus off De Gea and onto other players, and Spanish paper El Confidencial is reporting that the ‘keeper is becoming more frustrated by the ‘always negative’ attitude of the head coach.
He is said to be feeling undervalued by the coach, as De Gea is commonly saving his teammates without being praised for it, and the same report indicates that his current feelings at Old Trafford could be the circumstances that are holding up the Spanish international from signing a widely-reported contract extension. His current deal expires in June 2017, and his imperious form has had talks of a potential move to Real Madrid circling.
With the current situation, De Gea is said to be unwilling to sign the new deal whilst his reputation amongst the United side is under threat, and van Gaal’s treatment of the stopper could be the catalyst that sees him force a move away from Old Trafford in the coming months.
The view that De Gea could be moving away is also backed up by the increasing reports that former Barcelona man Victor Valdes is ready to sign a full-time playing contract with the club, having recovered from his long-term injury whilst training in Manchester.
Van Gaal is keen for him to sign as competition for De Gea, but, in the current situation, Valdes could well be the only real first-choice stopper that United possess should De Gea leave Old Trafford to return to his homeland.
De Gea has been sensational this season, and United need to hang onto him at all costs. He is a popular figure with his teammates and in the form of his life and letting him go would send out the wrong message.
If he does leave, perhaps the report is an explanation as to why, but it could very easily be a Spanish newspaper angling for some form of hope that the new number one stopper in the country could come home.