At the Champions League Round of 16, Manchester United were facing off against Sevilla. While United had a mostly forgettable performance and a number of questionable decisions were made, there were a few bright sparks. Namely goalkeeper David De Gea, if it hadn’t been for him, the Red Devils probably would have been humiliated. Luis Muriel, Sevilla striker, said, “He is an extraordinary goalkeeper, one of the best”. Muriel could only watch in disbelief as de Gea stopped his point-blank header from rolling in, just before half-time.
As a result of his brilliant performances, De Gea may have earned himself an extended stay at Old Trafford this summer. Manchester United will be hoping to safeguard the goalkeeper from interested parties. La Liga club Real Madrid have been vying for him for a long time but De Gea is content at United.
Former United captain, Bryan Robson said, “There’s no way the club will want to let him go. I was in line with his save against Sevilla last night. The speed that he moved to keep out the header… wow. With most keepers that would have been in the net before they had even started thinking of moving. His reflexes are fantastic. He’s a giant among keepers now, I think he’s the best around.”
De Gea’s talent is such that he has been hailed as Edwin van der Sar’s successor. Inevitably, his size made him a physical target for the opposition and he was considered weak. He said, “English football is different, especially for a goalkeeper. It’s more aggressive, more physical. It’s far, far harder. The ball is in the air more and you get pushed about. And the referees don’t blow [for] anything!”
De Gea’s patience was tested during the Louis van Gaal days when he struggled with the Dutchman’s approach. Real Madrid very nearly got their man and United would’ve lost a crucial cog. In the Champions League this season, he has a 95.5 per cent record of shots saved, more than any other keeper in the competition. Wednesday’s clean sheet against Sevilla was his sixth in his last eight games in Europe. It’s to learn that back in October, he was not even on FIFA’s list of best goalkeepers of 2017.