As Spain’s La Roja gather in preparation for resuming European Cup Qualifying, Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea Coy is keeping his cards close to his chest about his club future. After a season where his excellence covered over many gaps in United’s leaky defense, attention is turning to De Gea’s next potential employer.
Coming off a disappointing FIFA World Cup in Brazil where Spain lost two matches with long-serving captain Iker Casillas in goal, and only won with Pepe Reina as keeper, De Gea entered the 2014-2015 English Premier League with a point to prove. Even given the disappointing World Cup results, Spain entered European Cup qualifying as heavy favorites to win their group. Nonetheless, De Gea has found it difficult to convince Spanish coach Vincente Del Bosque to be his number one in goal. De Gea’s lone start in the last year for La Roja was a 2-0 loss to the Netherlands in March.
Perpetually losing out to Casillas, it is either ironic or unsurprising that the most frequently mentioned destination for De Gea is at Real Madrid. Casillas is aging quickly, and while Keylor Navas was brought in last summer after leading Costa Rica to surprising World Cup results, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez’s Galactico strategy every transfer season lends credence to rumors that De Gea might head to the Bernabeu this summer.
Given Casillas’ shaky form for Spain, recent decline in performance for Madrid and De Gea’s imperious form in the past season for United, it seems possible that Del Bosque’s intransigence might finally be in for a shakeup. De Gea is only 24 years old, but plays with a maturity beyond his years, and public pressure may soon demand that he move permanently into the starting spot. While De Gea might still be seen as one for the future, he surely has his eyes set on the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as a chance to make his mark in the international arena and find redemption for Spain.
A move to Real Madrid would only improve De Gea’s chances with La Roja at this point. Whereas Manchester United has endured a torrid couple of years, including last year’s absence from European competition, Real Madrid has demonstrated a consistency in Europe that is only matched by a select few other teams. While Louis Van Gaal has succeeded at revitalizing Manchester United’s domestic form in the Premier League, questions still remain about the squad’s ability to replicate this success in harder continental competitions.
With only a year left on his contract, De Gea is one of the undisputed stars of United who could walk onto any team in Europe, and his unwillingness to sign an extension signals uncertainty to outside observers. Likewise, it has been reported that De Gea’s relationship with Van Gaal is somewhat lacking. De Gea has no lack of suitors beyond the aforementioned Madrid, although there are a number of other experienced goalkeepers in Europe who might take the opportunity this summer to find greener pastures in which to ply their trade, including Tottenham Hotspur’s French international Hugo Lloris and Chelsea’s Petr Cech.
So long as De Gea declines to sign a contract extension with United, speculation will run rampant about the possibility of his moving on. Whether he is pulled away by Real Madrid or another club with the financial acumen and flexibility within Financial Fair Play rules, De Gea will remain one of Europe’s most enticing goalkeepers. What remains to be seen is if Manchester United can assure him of their commitment to win at the highest level and purchase capable players during the summer transfer season.
Contribute by – Tony Samboras