Manchester United's Goalkeeping Department Is An Absolute Mess

United could be left with just Tom Heaton as a contracted goalkeeper on their books come August
10:00, 28 Jun 2023

Manchester United’s goalkeeping department is in utter shambles. We are edging closer to July and yet it remains about as clear as fog what United’s goalkeeping ranks are going to look like come their Premier League opener against Wolverhampton Wanderers in August.

Longstanding servant David de Gea is at yet another crossroads at Old Trafford. One that was predictable for everyone on the outside looking in but impossible to see from within it seems.

How long has it been transparent that the Spaniard is not the type of goalkeeper that Erik ten Hag desires to take the Red Devils to the next level? Pretty much since the Dutchman stepped through the door. 

Granted there were other areas on the pitch that needed attention first, but it seemed inevitable from the start that De Gea’s long-time affiliation with the club would soon be coming to an end - at least that was the most rational way of thinking. 


A year on and De Gea has had another year of ups and downs, which will happen for an old school shot-stopper asked to play football the way Ederson would for rivals Manchester City. We have seen some more clangers from the exiled Spain international but through all that he claimed the Premier League’s Golden Glove award with 16 clean sheets.

On paper it looks as though he is still the real deal. However, when you watch him try and play the revolutionary way of the modern goalkeeper it is obvious that he is not up to the task. Ten Hag saw this earlier in the campaign and changed the style from playing out from the back to a more direct approach to aid the veteran Spaniard, which saw an improvement in results. But it isn’t what the former Ajax boss is after long-term.


De Gea is and always will be regarded as a fantastic shot-stopper, but in a world where the goalkeeper is essentially the foundation of the attack, there is no room for him in this evolving landscape.

Despite this, the club has reiterated their desire to keep the £375,000-per-week star around with Ten Hag himself expressing desire to hold onto De Gea past the summer. It’s something that hasn’t really helped his cause for implementing his own brand of football on the team.

For what feels like an eternity, the two parties have been locked in talks over a new deal that would’ve drastically reduced De Gea’s salary. Only, now that he has agreed to it, the club wants to change the terms again for an even lower wage. Not only are they dragging this awkward dance on but creating more problems for themselves when Ten Hag needs to bolster his midfield and attack at the same time.

De Gea believes that he is still good enough to be the number one choice. If he stays there is a good chance that in a few weeks, months or even a year’s time, he could be recognised as the United understudy. This will create discontent and another saga in itself down the line. 

With United reportedly in contact with Inter Milan’s Andre Onana, a former player of Ten Hag, if a move were to materialise he wouldn’t be moving to Old Trafford to play second fiddle to De Gea.

De Gea could move on this summer and find a club tailored to his style and he could enjoy the next few years of his career at a high level rather than try and be something that he isn’t by staying in M16. His contract officially expires on June 30th and following the latest development you doubt he’d want to agree to the new terms.


With this in mind, Inter Milan will try and exploit United’s desperation for a first-choice ‘keeper in their pursuit of Onana, and the same will happen at any club they go knocking in search of a number one or the deputy they will need should De Gea walk away.

If De Gea does go, United need to bring in two goalkeepers because their ranks are looking to get pretty thin. Jack Butland has moved to Rangers from Crystal Palace, following his nice six-month holiday in the north west. This leaves fellow back-up Tom Heaton without a friend, and he himself has played just 202 minutes of senior football in the past three years.

Then there is Dean Henderson. The loud-mouthed academy graduate who vented his frustrations at United last season after he joined Nottingham Forest on loan. He was disappointed that he lost his place to De Gea stating that he was given assurances about the number one spot after his time with Sheffield United. This didn’t go down well with fans and likely the club too as he appears to have burned his bridges with Man United. 

It is looking like he could move to the City Ground on a permanent basis which looks to leave the ranks looking even lighter. Bear in mind the amount of positions on the field that United desperately need to improve this summer, this whole saga involving De Gea and the other goalkeepers in the squad further highlights the ineptitude that currently prevents the club from progressing faster.

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