Free Agent David De Gea Didn't Expect To Be Looking For Work At This Stage

The ex-Man United goalkeeper is probably surprised to still be unemployed
07:00, 30 Aug 2023

David De Gea leaving Manchester United this summer wasn’t a massive surprise. The Spaniard’s deal was expiring and the fact manager Erik ten Hag wanted a ball-playing goalkeeper was an open secret. The matter was more protracted than necessary, with conjecture over whether De Gea was offered a deal to stay and whether that deal was withdrawn. But the replacement of De Gea was something everyone knew was on the horizon, even if he had extended his stay for another season.

However, what is surprising is the fact De Gea is yet to find a new club. While his style of play has made him unfashionable in some quarters, this is still the shot-stopper who won the Premier League Golden Glove last season. In a world where not every team plays the transitional style of football Ten Hag wants, surely there would be a queue of suitors for the Spain international?


Not so, it seems. Real Madrid found themselves in need of a goalkeeper this summer, with Thibaut Courtois tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. De Gea had once come within a faulty fax machine of signing for Los Blancos. But instead of hooking up with the free agent, Madrid opted for Kepa Arrizabalaga on loan from Chelsea.

With Kepa leaving and Edouard Mendy departing for Al-Ahli, Chelsea were also on the lookout for a new keeper. But despite making it their sole aim to sign every footballer on the planet, the west London club never came knocking. Instead, Mauricio Pochettino’s side opted for Brighton & Hove Albion’s Robert Sanchez.

Arsenal signed a new goalkeeper this term in Robert Sanchez, with De Gea’s rudimentary work in possession unlikely to fit Mikel Arteta’s style of play. Bayern Munich were credited with an interest due to an injury suffered by Manuel Neuer. But the iconic sweeper-keeper is set to return to Bundesliga action and the interest has coolled. 

Of course for a player of De Gea’s profile, the Saudi Pro League is fast becoming an option. According to reports, clubs in Saudi Arabia are very keen on De Gea. But at this stage it appears the Spaniard is holding out for a European move in order to resurrect his career.


The fact it needs resurrecting is curious to say the least. The aforementioned Golden Glove award, coupled with the fact he’s young for his position at 32, should make him an enticing prospect for a Champions League club. But high-profile mistakes, including in the FA Cup final defeat to Manchester City, and the loss of his international place have hurt De Gea’s standing. 

Given his award-winning exploits last term, this probably isn’t where De Gea expected to find himself in the final week of the transfer window. While he would not have relished life as Andre Onana’s number two at Old Trafford, the personality he has would have made him convinced he could win back his starting berth. Even as his contract expired, the 32-year-old would have expected to be the subject of attractive offers. But in a summer where a number of goalkeepers have moved on, De Gea is standing still, awaiting a bolt from the blue.

If it doesn’t come, another of football’s leading lights is likely to go to Saudi Arabia. Given his age, it is unlikely to be where he wanted to carry out the next chapter of his career. But it might be the one avenue for a player that, sadly, it feels like football is moving away from. De Gea still has a lot to offer, but will any European clubs take him up on it?

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