Manchester United’s Goalkeeper Dilemma

As the 2019/20 season begins to wind down following a long, tumultuous period, eyes are beginning to stray into the next campaign.

Chelsea have already signed Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech to boost their squad for the new season, Liverpool are reportedly plotting a move for Thiago Alcantara from Bayern, Manchester City have acknowledged that they need to spend to reinvigorate their squad and challenge Liverpool next year.

Manchester United have been linked with several players for the new season, with Jadon Sancho, Donny Van de Beek and Jude Bellingham among the names. But they’ve got internal decisions to make too.

The big one on everyone’s mind – does Dean Henderson make a return to Old Trafford and oust David De Gea as the No.1 goalkeeper?

De Gea has been United’s No.1 since he signed way back in the summer of 2011 from Atletico Madrid. After a bumpy start, the Spaniard has grown into the role and at one point in time was undoubtedly the best in the world. He won the Sir Matt Busby Award (Fan’s Player of the Year) a record four-times, including three in a row and also won the Player’s Player of the Year award three times. Had it not been for De Gea, the Red Devils’ fall from grace following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement would have been much, much worse.

Despite that though, he has struggled for the last 18 months. He’s made countless uncharacteristic errors and cost Manchester United points. Some fans would even go as far as to say that he’s the reason they didn’t get Top 4 last year. Even this year, according to the official Premier League website, De Gea has made 3 errors leading to goals – only Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka has made more. While it won’t count towards his numbers, his latest error against Tottenham arguably cost his side two points in the hunt for Top 4.

On the other hand, Dean Henderson has been flourishing for Sheffield United. In his second season-long loan at Bramall Lane, Henderson has turned in performance after performance as the Blades have shocked everyone and found themselves in a race for European places in their first season back in the Premier League.

Dean Henderson Signs a New Contract at Manchester United : News Photo
Dean Henderson signed a new contract with Man Utd before going out on loan to Sheffield United

Henderson has kept 11 clean sheets in the league this season, bettered only by Burnley’s Nick Pope and Alisson Becker of Liverpool. De Gea by comparison has kept 9.

Former goalkeeping-coach at Manchester United Eric Steele has spoken about the situation and offered some expert insight. He said:

I used to have a quote on all my walls, wherever I was coach. A printout, laminated – ‘When you do it right, no one remembers. When you do it wrong, no one forgets’. [It’s] goalkeeper law. Number one rule.

This is certainly something to consider when making this decision. Henderson is used to being under constant pressure and has still made mistakes, including against Liverpool earlier in the season and for England U21’s during the European Championships in 2019.

At 23 years old, Henderson is still developing and still has the best part of 10-12 years at the top of the game ahead of him. It’s come to light that he’s currently earning £70,000 p/w at Old Trafford after signing a new contract before going out on loan and United are not against re-entering talks over another new deal. He still has another two years on his contract, plus Manchester United have the option to extend that for a further year. There is absolutely no rush for United to rush him in while De Gea is still in his prime, despite the dip over the last 18 months.

If I were United, I’d let Henderson go on loan again next year. David De Gea has three years left on his current deal plus the option for the club to extend, so if they were to sell him the value would still be there. With the Spaniard aware he has real competition for his shirt, it may fire him up to perform as well as we all know he can. If it doesn’t, United can pull the trigger knowing that Henderson has had an extra year of regular first-team football and that De Gea’s form is no longer just a blip.

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