When David de Gea’s 12-year Manchester United career came to an abrupt end this summer, there were few who could have imagined that the Spaniard would still be without a club over a month after the transfer window slammed shut.
Man Utd’s decision to let the 32-year-old leave following the expiration of his contract was somewhat expected, but nobody thought that De Gea would stay a free agent for long.
The former Man Utd number one may have not been the perfect goalkeeper for Erik ten Hag, but he’s still a fine shot-stopper and more than capable of playing at a high level on a weekly basis.
But the offers haven’t come, or certainly not those that have tickled De Gea’s fancy, with the 45-cap international now even considering calling time on his playing career.
As soon as Erik ten Hag walked through the door at Carrington, there was a sense that De Gea’s days at the club were numbered. The Dutchman’s philosophy is all about playing through the thirds and passing out from the back. That starts with the goalkeeper.
De Gea has always been a supreme goalkeeper with his hands, but he has never quite had the quality with the ball at his feet of his counterparts at the top of the Premier League. The likes of Alisson Becker and Ederson have led the way in England in terms of their distribution and, frankly, the modern game has left De Gea behind.
The Spaniard’s inability to implement Ten Hag’s philosophy made him a weakness in the former Ajax coach’s eyes, with some high-profile errors not helping his cause. Add this to his reported £375,000-a-week salary and it was hardly surprising that Man Utd felt it time to cut ties with their long-standing number one.
Andre Onana was drafted in to replace De Gea and, despite some iffy early form, the Cameroon international should allow the Red Devils to build from the back more effectively going forward.
De Gea, meanwhile, has seen his stock drop, with some rumoured summer interest from Bayern Munich and Real Madrid – both of which would have likely been short-term deals to replace injured goalkeepers – the best he and his agent could muster.
90min understands that De Gea has resisted the call to join up with many of the experienced stars that traded Europe for Saudi Arabia last summer.
The goalkeeper has made it clear that he wants to stay in Europe and is convinced he could still feature regularly for a Champions League team in the near future.
Cristiano Ronaldo has reportedly been trying to convince his former teammate to join him at Al Nassr, but the Portuguese international’s advances have been rebuffed by De Gea, who is currently standing firm.
12 Premier League players made the move to Saudi Arabia this summer, including the likes of Jordan Henderson, Riyad Mahrez and Allan Saint-Maximin, but De Gea insists he is not willing to make the switch.
One reason De Gea is yet to find a new club is his demands. The goalkeeper wants to be first-choice, preferably in the Champions League, and will expect to be his new club’s number one for the foreseeable future. As a result, there are unlikely to be too many suitors that tick all the boxes on his wishlist.
Perhaps one of the reasons that Bayern and Real Madrid decided against pursuing the shot-stopper was because they couldn’t offer him what he wanted once Manuel Neuer and Thibaut Courtois returned from significant injuries.
There is also the matter of the financial muscle that it would require to sign De Gea. Even if the Spaniard were to agree to a 50% wage cut, for example, a club would still have to be able to spend £187,500-a-week on a goalkeeper that will turn 33 in November.
It’s fair to say that De Gea’s reputation may have also taken a slight hit over the last couple of years. The shot-stopper won Man Utd’s Player of the Year award four times during his time at the club, but his recent drop-off in performance levels and his inability to carry out a more modern tactical game plan doesn’t make him the most desirable goalkeeper on the market for prospective buyers.
While De Gea undoubtedly wants to continue his playing career, especially given he’s still relatively young for a goalkeeper, he will consider retiring should the right offer not arrive. 90min understands that he is willing to wait until January before making a decision, but could consider his future should the transfer window pass by without him finding a new club.
Of course, a lot can change between now and the end of the year. It’s still possible that a top club comes in for De Gea from somewhere on the continent, or that he accepts playing somewhere as a second-choice option.
However, it would be a shame if De Gea retired at such a young age due to a lack of viable options, especially given what he has offered the Premier League during his time at Man Utd.
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