Sooner or later Manchester United will have to replace their great current no.1 goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. The likes of Tomasz Kuszczak and Ben Foster seemed to have had numerous chances and are yet to show that they are fully capable. One man who may be the replacement to van der Sar, who is now 39, is Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea. He is said to be holding out for a dream move to Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson is said to have sent scouts across to Spain watch de Gea in action and the apparent news is that positive feedback has been sent to the United boss. If Foster, more sore than Kuszczak, is likely to falter than the team will need a back-up goalkeeper – at the least – presumably at some stage next season or as a more immediate replacement for Foster who could be sold if his constant linking with other clubs are actually true.
De Gea is a product of Atletico’s youth teams and learnt his trade with the team in the reserves. He played for two years in the Atletico B team, and has an expected height for a goalkeeper at 6ft 3in. Avid followers of the Champions League will have seen the 19-year-old in action this season when his side faced Porto in September 2009. As injuries had occurred to the other goalkeepers in the squad, De Gea was rewarded with his first start in a La Liga match three days after the European tie. Unfortunately for him he gave away a penalty but then redeemed himself by saving the spot kick. He is yet to represent Spain at senior level but can claim to have helped the Spain U17 side win the 2007 European Championships, and this has enabled him to progress nicely from the U17 team to the U21s- a call up to the senior side looks inevitable over the next 12 months.
His team-mates say that he is similar in style to van der Sar, thus nicknaming him van der Gea. Spain has produced some fine goalkeepers in the past, and de Gea is said to be one of the brightest prospects in that department. Even though he is only 19, and therefore has had a lack of experience, he has had the misfortune of having suffered injury already but has come through that to get a taste of first-team football- this shows a good character and temperament. Aside from saving a penalty in his first league match, this is not meant to be a rarity of his as this is meant to be one of his strengths. His stature is different to other goalkeepers because, although 6ft plus should be a given for a professional, his growth for someone quite young makes him stand out in that respect. Apart from his penalty-stopping abilities, de Gea’s other strong attributes are said to be his handling and kicking along with his positioning. Establishing himself in Atletico Madrid’s first team could potentially lead him on to more high-profile clubs in the future.
Although he is unlikely to leave Spain just yet, another English club that could have had his services by now is Wigan, but de Gea reiterated that Atletico is where he needs to be. He said: “I believe now is not the time to move. I was about to go to Wigan last summer but I wanted to remain at Atletico and take my opportunity another time. The Premier League would be enjoyable for any player and it is an option I would like a bit later on in my life.” Of a possible move to Old Trafford, he added: “’All I know is what Atletico have told me – there has been contact between the two clubs.”
De Gea is what you would expect of a typical youngster in one of the top leagues. He seems level-headed enough to understand that a move to somewhere like Manchester United can’t just happen overnight, but the rewards could be there if he impresses enough for Atletico over the next year or so. His team-mates say he is like van der Sar, and de Gea himself said “van der Sar has been one of the best in the world in recent years” so by continuing to save penalties and pulling off world-class saves he may well be the man that could leave everyone talking in the same way about him.
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