De Gea’s Long Goodbye

April 29, 2017 Tags: Reads 15 comments
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Legend goes that a broken fax machine was all that kept David De Gea from his purported dream move to Real Madrid back in 2015. The detailed account is, naturally, slightly more complex with documents being sent right at the very end of the transfer window and in the end not being processed through FIFA channels in time. Both clubs played the blame game before De Gea, surprisingly, signed a four-year deal. Now he may finally be on his way.

The end of the saga produced positive results for United, with the star goalkeeper offering consistent excellence in winning his third Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award a year after his transfer to the Bernabéu collapsed.

"Legend goes that a broken fax machine was all that kept De Gea from his dream move to Madrid back in 2015. Both clubs played the blame game, now he may finally be on his way."

It can now be reasonably argued that De Gea is one of the greatest goalkeepers to have ever played for the club. After a rocky start he’s developed into one of the world’s elite stoppers and his numbers for United are impressive. De Gea has played 266 times for United and kept 96 clean sheets; a number made all the more remarkable given some of the flimsy defenses he’s been forced to protect.

In terms of trophies, the Spaniard has won the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield, hoovering up all that he can in England before taking into account the Europa League medal he could secure before the season is out. The stopper has certainly come a long way from the skinny, donut loving, youngster who signed in 2011.

David de Gea

Yet it seems that a parting of ways is only a question of when, and not if. The lure of Madrid, reuniting with his family and girlfriend, is seemingly irresistible. Even the guarantee of a weekly private Slipknot concert at Old Trafford may not be enough to convince De Gea to stay. If the now daily reports in Madrid mouthpiece Marca are to be believed the Spaniard will make his move back to his home city in the summer.

United took a chance in signing the player, but he has more than repaid the club with some breathtaking performances and tremendous stops, such as his effort against Juan Mata. Take into account De Gea’s professionalism, fully demonstrated when he was frozen out by Louis van Gaal during the 2015 summer transfer saga. The goalkeeper kept his counsel and slotted back into the first team without making a fuss.

Van Gaal might still be in a job had he opted to play De Gea from the start of the 2015/16 season. Of the four games De Gea missed, United beat Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa, drew against Newcastle United and, crucially, lost to Swansea City – a game that included a howler from Sergio Romero.

United missed out on Champions League football on goal difference and while there’s no guarantee that playing De Gea would have changed that outcome, the question still lingers – could he have made a difference against Swansea and in the process secure the vital point required to qualify for Europe’s premier competition?

League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
2011–12 29 1 0 8 1 39
2012–13 28 5 1 7 41
2013–14 37 0 4 10 1 52
2014–15 37 5 1 43
2015–16 34 6 1 8 49
2016–17 32 1 5 3 1 42
197 18 12 36 3 266


That’s a topic for another day, but while losing the De Gea will represent a blow the club is probably in a better position to deal with it De Gea’s loss under José Mourinho than in the Van Gaal era. There are replacement options, with gossip that that Jan Oblak’s agent flew into Old Trafford to discuss a transfer, while Italian wunderkind Gianluigi Donnarumma, a client of Mino Raiola, has also been mooted as a possible acquisition. As successors go, Oblak or Donnarumma are not bad if De Gea moves on.

More importantly, the club isn’t under any immediate pressure to sell given that De Gea’s contract runs till 2019, so Mourinho and Ed Woodward have the room to negotiate a sensible transfer fee with Real Madrid, and line-up a suitable replacement – this  summer or the next depending on how discussions go.

Indeed, De Gea’s situation is unique because he’s not a prototypical galactico given that he’s a goalkeeper, but from Florentino Pérez’ point of view the lure of signing a highly marketable player who happens to be Spain’s number one – and one of the best players in his position in the world – is too tempting to resist. From a PR perspective Pérez can also claim that he finally got his man should De Gea sign this summer.

Perez Florentino

The odds of repetition with any potential replacement are slim. If Donnarumma signed, for example, there’s always the possibility that he may want to replace Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus sometime in the future, though the Italian club does not possess United’s financial clout.

Losing De Gea would naturally be a disappointment to Mourinho and supporters as he is a special talent. That said if the move happens this summer it won’t be nearly as catastrophic as a move two seasons ago. After all, even Ronaldo was sold to Los Merengues and the world kept on turning – it will be no different if De Gea returns to Madrid with United’s blessing.

Besides, De Gea has done plenty enough for the club to decide his own future – as a player he’s been professional, a match winner and, arguably, a club great.

As goodbyes go De Gea’s potential departure has been a long, with only the most optimistic supporters now under the impression that he’ll reject Madrid’s advances. The only potential obstacle to a transfer now appears to be Pérez, should El Presidente turn his attention elsewhere.

De Gea’s transfer is unlikely to be a bitter affair this time – and the root of that feeling could just be that the club is better prepared to cope with any loss that two seasons past.


Ruben Salinas - April 29, 2017 Reply

I can’t get my head around the fact that he might leave United. Is it a sure thing?

Nate Kunz - April 29, 2017 Reply


mohit bhatia - April 29, 2017 Reply

Completely Agree! If we sell him though, We must absolutely get a belter of a transfer fee!

DaveSaves - April 29, 2017 Reply

I can’t even bring myself to read it 😔

Aashish - April 29, 2017 Reply

Been pondering the inevitability​ of De Gea’s return to Madrid for weeks now. Fully agree with this viewpoint. We are better placed now ..that said to let go of another precocious talent after seeing his development from scratch first hand, is disappointing. Again.

Fusilli Jerry - April 29, 2017 Reply

1. If this now inevitable-seeming calamity was indeed catalysed by Mourinho including De Gea in one of his public player attacks (resulting in the mysteriously unwitnessed De Gea hip injury when suddenly Romero was 1st choice in Premier League games too), shouldn’t that be a sacking offence for the Portuguese? Or at the very least, result in his working for us for free from now on by way of atonement?

2. Our transfer dealings with Real are already characterised by a humiliating master-and-bitch dynamic (such as our subsidising their sale of De Maria to PSG). If they take De Gea, and rather than our extracting in return a player whose loss hurts them too and that our football team, rather than our marketing department, actually needs (Kroos, basically), instead we take their flop Rodriguez off their hands, at a valuation entirely of their choosing, further unbalancing our squad with yet another No.10, further extinguishing the chances of Mourinho ever playing with a formation that makes having Pogba actually worthwhile (i.e. not 4-2-3-1), our role in the transfer market as world-leading mugs for Mendes-types to take the piss out of will have been sealed for ever.

3. If Hart, the clown that Guardiola righteously called out, arrives at United, I’m out of here.

Spenmny - April 30, 2017 Reply

1) You can’t possibly know this. As the article states and is widely known, he was almost out the door in LVG’s second season. Mourinho’s comments will be neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things.

2) How often do player swap deals actually take place between big clubs? Zlatan and Eto’o is probably the last one. So try not to worry yourself too much.

3) If buying a keeper you don’t like is enough for you to be ‘out of here’ you may as well bugger off now, snowflake. Frig knows what you were like when we signed Bosnich and the two Andy Gorams, assuming you were born then.

Marco - April 30, 2017 Reply

In answer to (1), he answer is no. De Gea has been Real for two seasons now. Mourinho gets along with Perez and will push for a player he wants, not just the ones Real want to get rid of. We don’t really need Rodriguez or Kroos but Morata would be a good addition. Someone who can put the ball in the net is a must and, if we don’t get CL next season, Griezemann ain’t coming. Hart won’t sign for United and we wouldn’t want him. Varane would be a great acquisition too given that, bar Bailly, we still have Van Gaal’s defence.

Dave Ian Parker - April 29, 2017 Reply

No, just media once again! He will never join them.

Peter Daniel - April 29, 2017 Reply

DE Gea is such a magnificent goal keeper….he still remains in my memory for ever#evergreen United

NazManUnited - April 29, 2017 Reply

True but I wish he’d stay longer than Rooney

brandon barber - April 29, 2017 Reply

Good analysis. Would be gutted to see him leave but the Spanish tractor beam is strengthening. @kschmeichel1 could do the job.

Marco - April 30, 2017 Reply

Son of Schmeichel eh? Could do a lot worse.

Michael - April 29, 2017 Reply

I don’t think is advisable for our number one best goalkeeper in the world to go just like that.I am suggesting that Wood should increase his weekly salary and make him feel proud that he is our best so that we the funs can also be happy.Glory,glory united.

DS - May 14, 2017 Reply

Money shouldn’t be the main issue if De Gea leaves, hoping Jose and Woodward could flip him for one of Real’s player preferably a defender like Varane

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