Man United’s De Gea leaves club like a legend despite bittersweet ending

Rob Dawsonreporter09/07/2023, 04:33 ONLY5 minutes of reading

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Erik ten Hag had doubts about David de Gea from his first day in charge of Manchester United, but by the end of last season, it had all come to an end. Last summer, when Ten Hag took charge for the first time, he decided he had inherited bigger problems than a goalkeeper not quite comfortable with the ball at his feet and instead spent His transfer budget for a centre-back, a left-back, a midfielder. and a winger.

When Ten Hag sat down with director of football John Murtough earlier this year to decide how to spend the money this summer, the prevailing opinion was that he could live with De Gea as a No 1 for a year. again. But then he changed his mind.

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Mistakes against Sevilla, West Ham and in the FA Cup final against Manchester City convinced Ten Hag that it was time for a change. In the end, it was De Gea who announced his departure on Saturday, but only after realizing that if he stayed, his role would be greatly diminished. De Gea’s social media posts were quickly followed by a club statement in which Murtough said De Gea would «leave Manchester United with the deepest respect and appreciation. highest of everyone associated with the club.» But Ten Hag, first of all, will be relieved when he’s gone.

If he does make it his way, Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana will come in to take De Gea’s place, although a compromise on the transfer fee is still needed. United are considering other targets while Dean Henderson, returning from loan at Nottingham Forest, is also being considered, but Onana is Ten Hag’s first choice, having worked together at Ajax.

David de Gea is leaving Manchester United after 12 years with the club.Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Before the Champions League final, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed Onana as one of Inter’s most dangerous players because of the positions he could take. Occasionally, during the match in Istanbul, the Cameroon international moved up into midfield with the ball at his feet. For all of De Gea’s attributes, especially his ability to block reflexes, it’s something he’s never quite grasped. He was dropped by former Spain coach Luis Enrique on the eve of the European Championships for the same reason, and he wasn’t even in the squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

De Gea said on Saturday that «it’s time for a new challenge», but the question is where? The game has continued since Real Madrid tried their best to sign him from United in the summer of 2015, and few top clubs will pick up the phone even if he is a self-made player. do. Most regulators across Europe will share Ten Hag’s opinion.

Earlier last season, Ten Hag and Murtough decided not to trigger the one-year auto-renew on De Gea’s roughly £375,000-a-week contract and would instead seek to negotiate a longer deal on De Gea’s contract. salary reduction. Negotiations were active and, at one stage, an agreement was close to being reached – although United insist that a formal contract offer was never made – but when De Gea ran into difficulty in April and May, Ten Hag increasingly believes, even when working with a limited contract. summer budget because of Financial Fair Play restrictions, a new goalkeeper will have to be prioritized during the transfer window.

De Gea made a terrible mistake against West Ham, letting Said Benrahma’s weak shot slip through his fingers, but it was his performance against Sevilla in the Europa League that was the bigger problem. Twice he let the ball touch his feet and United lost 0-3. Ten Hag defended his goalkeeper against public criticism after West Ham and Sevilla, but after the FA Cup final defeat to Man City, Ten Hag changed his tune.

«Speaking of which, we are on the right track,» he said. «But there are times in the game where there are issues in the game that we have to improve, for sure, if we want to take the next step and win titles.»

Though his United career ended on a lame, De Gea – eventually – will be remembered as a club legend. His 545 appearances put him seventh on the all-time list and four player of the year awards in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 just behind Cristiano Ronaldo. He was part of the last United team to win the Premier League under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, and in February surpassed Peter Schmeichel’s record for most clean sheets in United history. He went 17 times in the Premier League last season to win the Golden Glove award for a second time.

There was something amiss about De Gea leaving after his final game at Old Trafford without any fanfare because at the time he still believed he would be back in the season. next. Even Bruno Fernandes said in his farewell message posted on social media that De Gea «deserves to say goodbye at the stadium to all the fans who are cheering you on for all the good memories. .»

Many fans will agree with Fernandes that it is a sad end to a great United career, but most will also agree with Ten Hag that it is time to leave.

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