London, September 24: Uncertainty around David de Gea's future could have come to hurt Manchester United, according to former goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who is relieved the player has extended his contract.
Last week, the Spain international signed a new four-year deal, with the option of a fifth year, to bring an end to speculation over his commitment to the club.
United had been faced with the prospect of losing De Gea on a free transfer in 2020 if they had not agreed to fresh terms, with Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid all linked with the 28-year-old.
Former United star Schmeichel thinks the extension is a major boost to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is now able to concentrate on other concerns within the squad.
"Finally he signed the contract because it's been one of those situations that if it drags on too long it will actually hurt the football club," said Schmeichel. "It gets to a point where you say, 'Either you sign the contract or you leave but you tell us because we need to move on'.
"The situation at Manchester United is that we know quite a few of the players in the squad have to leave for the club to progress and we need to bring more players in, different kinds of players.
"I think the manager needs to know, 'Is David staying or is he going? Because I have to move on as a manager and we have to move on', but he signed and that's great.
"He's been, I think, in the last six years unquestionably the best player we've had, so it's nice. That box is now ticked and Ole can start looking at other areas he needs to improve in."
De Gea has played in all six of United's Premier League matches in an inconsistent start to the 2019-20 season.
He kept clean sheets in home wins against Chelsea and Leicester City but was at fault for Crystal Palace's second goal in a shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford last month, while he could do nothing to prevent a 2-0 loss to West Ham last Sunday.
De Gea is likely to be rested for Wednesday's EFL Cup match at home to Rochdale but is expected to face Arsenal next Monday.
12 - Since the start of the 2011-12 season, David de Gea has conceded more Premier League goals from direct free-kicks than any other goalkeeper (12). Weakness. pic.twitter.com/tDsOUjTl2c— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 22, 2019