Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is ‘in the dark’ about his future at Old Trafford amid the sudden competition from Dean Henderson over the last 10 months and is expected to seek talks with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of next season.
Home-grown stopper Henderson returned from a successful two-year loan at Sheffield United last summer and went on to make 26 appearances in all competitions over the course of the campaign, including 13 in the Premier League.
Although De Gea had remained number one for much of the season, duties were largely shared between the pair in the various competitions over the final two months from March onwards.
It has been no secret that Henderson is desperate to be number one for club and country. It means that Solskjaer has a huge decision to make, but De Gea is yet to be made aware of anything.
ESPN writes that the Spaniard, who joined United 10 years ago, is still keen to play regularly at the highest level. Like Henderson, it appears that he won’t settle for a back-up role.
It is said that De Gea intends to fight for his place and will request clarification and assurances from Solskjaer about his role, although he would only actively seek to leave the club should Henderson be confirmed as the preferred starter.
Henderson was reported to be ‘furious’ that he was overlooked to start the Europa League final against Villarreal last month, with United going on to lose 11-10 in a tense penalty shootout. De Gea failed to save any penalties and then missed the decisive kick himself.
It seems unlikely that United can keep both De Gea and Henderson next season. Solskjaer will not be able to continue juggling the pair and has to make a decision one way or the other. As soon as that happens, whoever is not chosen as number one would be expected to push for a transfer.
The alternative would be to ruthlessly sell both goalkeepers and replace them with someone new. Gianluigi Donnarumma looks like he is already spoken for ahead of an expected free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, but Atletico Madrid stopper Jan Oblak has long been linked with United. Two incoming transfer fees could also offset at least a significant chunk of the cost to buy him.
However, in a deflated market, finding buyers for two goalkeepers, one of whom has an enormous contract worth close to £400,000 per week, and pulling off a deal to sign to someone new at the same time as pushing ahead with other transfer targets would be extraordinarily ambitious.
United have already confirmed that Sergio Romero is being released at the end of this month when his contract expires, while fringe stopper Joel Castro Pereira will also be going.
Tom Heaton is expected to re-join on a free transfer from Aston Villa, while third choice Lee Grant has been offered an extension to his contract. United also have ex-Southend goalkeeper Nathan Bishop, who is thought to be a valued member of the training squad.
For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!