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Manchester United face tough choice with De Gea and Henderson

Bengaluru, March 19: Manchester United may have struggled in different areas of the pitch however since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure, one position they never have had to analyse is the goalkeeping section.

Over the years David De Gea has stood firm protecting the goal and probably is one of the rarest silver linings of the struggling Red Devils.

However, since last season, the flying Spaniard seems to have oftentimes dropped his touch. No keeper has made errors directly leading to a goal in Premier League since the start of the 2018-19 season than De Gea with 7 errors.

It is a massive number considering the Spanish keeper's reputation and performance which will worry Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and the Manchester United coaching staff.

De Gea is still relatively young when it comes to goalkeepers at 29 years of age, and possibly still have 3-4 prime years remaining. But with another goalkeeper from the academy ranks, Dean Henderson starting to produce an impressive display every weekend, the Red Devils could make a strong decision over their future.

Having played a crucial role in the Blades being promoted to the Premier League last term, Henderson has been hugely influential once again this time around. The 22-year-old Manchester United loanee has been one of the best keepers in the league if not the best and he has statistics to show for it.

He is just one clean sheet away from clinching the golden glove with 10 cs while he has helped Chris Wilder’s side to the second-best defensive record in the division behind only leaders Liverpool.

There's a rumour that United could again let him go for another season on loan with extending his contract, however, if it's the case Solskjaer have had to affirm the player of his future at Old Trafford first. Henderson has clearly suggested he wants to play for his home side in future but not as a second choice keeper.

This is where the conflict arises. Manchester United made a bold decision earlier this season when they offered David de Gea a huge deal, making him one of the highest earners in the Premier League. The Spaniard’s current deal expires in 2023, with United having the option to extend it by another year. Now it is unlikely the Red Devils will settle with both the keepers with one of them being demoted.

In this case, the more sensible option could be handing chances to Henderson the first-team role but after another year. United will have the opportunity to see his consistency for another season in English top division and if he makes his case stronger it must not be a problem handing him the first-team role.

But that would mean an exit of David De Gea. But at 30-year of age, a fresh start for the player elsewhere won’t be the worst option for him given his loyal service to an underperforming United. There are murmurs that Real Madrid or Juventus could come in for the keeper and if it's the event, Manchester United should perhaps cash-in on the Spaniard, and promote Henderson to the No. 1 role at the club.

But for the next season, it is better to stick with De Gea for the time being and let Henderson develop more under the guidance of Wilder and accustomed to the intensity of the Premier League.

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Story first published: Thursday, March 19, 2020, 11:58 [IST]
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