How crucial will David De Gea’s role at Manchester United be following his new contract signing?

Finally after a period of prolonged negotiations stretching roughly two years, the Spanish number one goalkeeper has signed a new deal at Manchester United this week until 2023.

This latest contract ensures that the Spanish international becomes the highest earner at the club, earning around £375,000 per week.

That in mind, it begs the question, how important will his role be in trying to get Manchester United back to competing again for premier league titles?

Following on from this, should he subsequently be made club captain?

Background and achievements to date

De Gea is currently one of the clubs longest serving players, having signed for The Red Devils back in 2011/12 from Atletico Madrid. The Spanish goalkeeper was scouted and hand picked as a replacement for veteran goalkeeper, Edwin Van Der Saar, by none other than legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.

During that time he has played over 300 games for the club and has helped them win a Premier League title – which he considers to be his career highlight so far, a League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League crown.

In terms of individual achievements, De Gea is the only Manchester United player to date to win the prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award on four separate occasions.

Challenging Times

Following a difficult first season with Manchester United, up until the World Cup in Russia 2018, he was widely considered to be the World Best Goalkeeper alongside Bayern Munich and German international keeper, Manuel Neuer.

A standout performance that immediately comes to mind is the remarkable 3-0 win against Liverpool at Old Trafford in 2014. What made this performance so special is that it is the first time that I can remember a goalkeeper being made man of the match.

He has also been responsible for evolving the importance of the goalkeeper position by constantly making remarkable saves with his feet as well as using his remarkable hand reflexes.

The previous season however has shown that his standards have notably slipped following his poor performances for Spain in Russia. This was followed by the latter disappointing games for Manchester United. Most importantly, his below par performance against Barcelona in the Champions League Quarter-final second leg where Lionel Messi’s second goal came from a shot going through De Gea’s legs. There was a similar goal conceded against Chelsea in the league at Old Trafford.

What was also apparent was the low number of Manchester United clean sheets he kept throughout the season.  De Gea only managed seven in the league out of a possible 38 matches and conceded 54 goals.  This was almost twice the number of the 2017/18 campaign where he achieved 18 clean sheets and only let in 28 goals.

The most likely cause of this lack of confidence was due to his uncertain future at the club, and also his inability to recover from his average performances for Spain at last summer’s World Cup.

What next for De Gea and what role should he play for Manchester United?

Manchester United fans must now be hoping that following the resolution of De Gea’s future; he will begin to go back to his previous excellent form.

He does have a key role to play in helping form a “new, more solid spine of the team,” according to former club captain, Gary Neville.

De Gea is now one of the more experienced players at the club and as his current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer constantly stresses, “he is still one of the world best goalkeepers and holds him in the highest esteem at the club.”

Stats will show that this season De Gea has already managed to match the number clean sheets that he had at Old Trafford from last season (two).

This has been aided by the fact there has been a consistent centre back pairing in Harry Maguire and Victor Lindeloef, a luxury that he did not have in the last campaign.

I believe he should also be made captain, as he is now one of the few Manchester United players who have experienced winning a Premier League title, as well as being one of their most constant performers.

Not only that, but I also liked his answer on his approach to leading a team that he gave in his interview on Monday following the confirmation of his new contract, that also indicates a more positive attitude that should reflect in his performance over the coming months. De Gea said,

“I think that it’s important to have your say but, at the same time, not to go too far or say something to your team-mates in a bad-mannered way. I’m always a pretty calm character, but when something needs to be said, I will say it, especially out on the pitch where I think it’s most important, to give bits of advice to everyone.

To always try and help everyone out, especially the younger lads.  So yes like I say, to always help where possibly I can.”

Other Captain Contenders?

Current club captain, Ashley Young, is no longer a guaranteed first choice starter having moved behind both, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the full back pecking order.

While other long serving players such as Chris Smailing have gone on loan to Roma and, like with Ashley Young, Phil Jones is no longer a first choice defender.

New signing, Harry Maguire, while he has potential to be club captain, he has not been at the club for long enough.  There is also the added pressure of dealing with being the world’s most expensive defender.

The only other viable contenders at the moment for the captaincy that I can see are Juan Mata, who is not guaranteed to start every game, however he is widely considered to be a model professional and then there is the enigma that is Paul Pogba.

Conclusion: What does the future hold for the Spanish international?

In the short term, David De Gea will have his eyes on regaining his place as Spain’s number one goalkeeper from Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga as well as getting back to his high standards and performances that he produced for previous managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Louis Van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

One thing that is clearly apparent however, David De Gea has a crucial role to play in getting Manchester United back to where they feel they should be, that is competing for league titles over the coming years. 

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