Manchester United’s De Gea leaves club as a legend despite bittersweet ending

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Rob DawsoncorrespondentJuly 10, 2023, 12:33 AMRead in 5 minutes

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Eric ten Haag had doubts about David De Gea from his first day as Manchester United manager, but by the end of last season, he had reached a point of no return. Last summer, when he became Ten Haag’s first manager, he decided that he had taken over a bigger problem than a goalkeeper who was completely unfamiliar with the ball at his feet, instead moving to centre-back, left-back and midfielder. I put in. and a winger.

When Ten Haag met with football director John Murtaugh earlier this year to decide how to spend the summer’s money, the general consensus was that De Gea could be number one for another year. . But then he changed his mind.

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Mistakes against Sevilla, West Ham and Manchester City in the FA Cup final convinced Ten Haag that it was time for a change. After all, it was De Gea who announced his departure on Saturday, but realized his role would have been significantly reduced had he stayed. De Gea’s social media post was soon followed by a statement from the club, with Murtaugh saying De Gea “leaves Manchester United with the deepest respect and the warmest gratitude of all involved at the club”. rice field. But Ten Hag will be relieved that he is gone.

If De Gea gets his way, Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana will arrive in De Gea’s place, but the transfer fee still needs to be compromised. United are considering other targets, including Dean Henderson, who has returned from a loan spell at Nottingham Forest, but Ten Haag’s first choice is Onana, who he worked with at Ajax.

David De Gea is set to leave Manchester United after 12 years.Photo Credit: Catherine Eyvil/Getty Images

Ahead of the Champions League final, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stressed Onana was one of Inter’s most dangerous players due to his position. Occasionally during the game in Istanbul, a Cameroonian player would scurry into midfield with the ball at his feet. All of De Gea’s attributes, especially his ability as a reflex shot-stopper, were things he never understood. For the same reason, former Spanish national team coach Luis Enrique also removed him for the same reason, and he was also removed from the squad for the Qatar World Cup.

“It’s time for a new challenge,” De Gea said on Saturday, but the question is where will it be? Since Real Madrid desperately tried to sign him from United in the summer of 2015, the game has progressed and few top clubs will even answer the phone when he’s a free agent. Most managers across Europe would agree with Ten Hag.

Earlier last season, Ten Hague and Murtaugh decided not to automatically extend De Gea’s contract, which was worth around £375,000 a week, for another year and instead consider negotiating a long-term deal at reduced wages. decided. Negotiations were positive and, at some stage, close to a deal – United insist there was no formal contract offer – but as De Gea struggled in April and May, there were signs of a decline. Ten Haag, working with a limited number of members, became convinced of this. With a limited summer budget due to Financial Fair Play restrictions, the transfer market will need to prioritize the acquisition of a new goalkeeper.

De Gea made a terrible mistake against West Ham, slipping Saeed Benrahma’s weak shot through his fingers, but it was his Europa League play against Sevilla that highlighted the bigger problem. He was caught with the ball at his feet twice and United lost 3-0. Ten Hague defended their goalkeeper against public criticism after the games against West Ham and Sevilla, but after losing the FA Cup final to Man City, they changed their tune.

“Just say this, we’re on the right track,” he said. “But if we want to take the next step and win trophies, there will always be moments and problems in the game that need to be improved.”

Despite his disappointing United career, De Gea will ultimately be remembered as a legend at the club. His 545 appearances ranks seventh all-time, and only Cristiano Ronaldo has won the Player of the Year award four times in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. He was part of the last United side to win the Premier League title under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, surpassing Peter Schmeichel’s all-time clean sheet record in February. He scored 17 goals in the Premier League last season and won his second Golden Glove award.

There is something disappointing about De Gea leaving without much fanfare after his final game at Old Trafford. Because at that point I still believed that De Gea would be back next season. Even Bruno Fernandes, in a farewell message posted on social media, said De Gea was “worthy to say goodbye in a stadium where all the fans are cheering for beautiful memories”.

Many fans would agree with Fernandez that it was the sad end to a great United career, but most would agree with ten Haag that it was time to move on.

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