Tag David de Gea

Tag David de Gea

De Gea excels and now comes the grudging respect

April 3, 2012 Tags: Reads 42 comments

“OMG,” extolled BBC pundit Mark Bright on Twitter in August, “Man Utd cannot win the Premier League with de Gea.”

Bright’s deliciously reactionary, and embarrassingly premature assertion, made on the evidence one suspects, of having watched young David de Gea in matches against Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion alone, was not the only knee-jerk response in late summer. Indeed, critics from the blogosphere to broadsheet newspapers rounded on the £18 million Spanish acquisition, varyingly comparing de Gea to the hapless Massimio Taibi, and questioning Sir Alex Ferguson’s sanity in replacing Edwin van der Sar with such a callow youth.

But this was not so much a critique of de Gea’s talent, as an assassination; a player thoroughly defenestrated by a media posse unwilling to entertain realistic mitigation. In the wake of de Gea’s outstanding recent performances, one wonders whether the English media pack will now discover the requisite humility.

de Gea’s critics were not simply intransigents in Bright’s mould, but media commentators of an altogether more studied nature. In the Guardian, for example, long-time United observer Daniel Taylor brought forward the question of dropping de Gea after the Spaniard’s Premier League début against West Brom at the Hawthornes. Similar responses came in most, if not all, Britain’s broadsheets.

“Not every team will be as generous as West Bromwich Albion and there has to be a case for Anders Lindegaard to take over,” argued Taylor.

“The Dane is seven years older than De Gea, has a greater penalty-box presence and, when he played in the United States in pre-season, had the trust of his team-mates. The Premier League can be an unforgiving place and, rightly or wrongly, De Gea has already been identified as a ‘dodgy keeper’.”

Meanwhile, in The Times, de Gea’s self-appointed critic-in-chief, and one-time Fergie biographer, Patrick Barclay described United’s new net-minder as “Heurelho Gomes with less shot-stopping skills.”

“The goalkeeper is like a jelly,” continued Barclay, in The Times‘ podcast last August. “I can’t see what he’s got. How on earth Ferguson and all his millions of coaches could have watched this boy week-in-week out and then signed him for the first team I just don’t know. It’s always a risk signing a goalkeeper from Spain, and Ferguson should have known this.”

“I’m looking forward to Man United versus Stoke,” Barclay added, with ill disguised glee.

Barclay, being Barclay, will likely be the last to come down from this particular high horse, let alone the xenophobic rant about Spanish ‘keeping, which has produced the considerable talents of Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes, together with Liverpool’s Pepe Reina, in recent years.

The theme continued in the The Independent, where the normally excellent Ian Herbert was quick to join the throng.

“It is unclear whether the English lessons, with which his manager says he is progressing so well, have acquainted him with an understanding of the term “dodgy keeper” but when it was being blasted out only 35 minutes into his competitive English career yesterday it was hard not to fear for him. The Premier League has a way of finding a player’s weakness and offering no sanctuary.”

Then in The Telegraph former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen, who has enjoyed a season-long war-of-words with Ferguson, was quick to claim that de Gea did “not have the trust of his teammates.”

“My record with underestimating how successful kids can be dreadful, but the crucial difference between the class of 1995 and Ferguson’s current crop is in the defence. It is too simple to say you will win nothing with a kid in goal, but it is a monumental challenge to ask a defence with an average age of 22 to go into games with the likes of Arsenal and Spurs.”

So monumental – it is tempting to point out – that United hammered 11 past the north London duo. Hindsight is a powerful weapon, of course, especially with the bravura of correct foresight in the face of overwhelming opposition. But none of the criticism really made any sense, except as a narrow observation on de Gea’s individual performances over a short period of time.

Certainly, the Spaniard should have kept out shots against City in the Community Shield, West Brom in the Premier League, and perhaps even Theo Wallcott’s strike through the ‘keeper’s legs in United’s 8-2 demolition of Arsenal at Old Trafford. Then came the calamitous performance against Blackburn Rovers in defeat, which precipitated the Spaniard’s demotion, and the cup loss to Liverpool at Anfield, where the home side thoroughly bullied the young ‘keeper.

In truth this was a quintet of games in which de Gea will have learned much about the brutality of the Premier League, but more about the media pack covering the world’s most widely broadcast competition. The former Atlético de Madrid stopper, who has already won a Europa League medal and the European Under-21 Championship, deserved none of the widespread psychological over-analysis.

After all, here was a kid, in his first weeks away from home, girlfriend a plane ride away in Spain, living in a hotel room, and who had little serious command of the language. What else, bar uncertain performances, could ever have been expected, of even the most the brilliant young player?

“There’s obviously an agenda from the media on de Gea and we experienced that again after the game in Benfica,” mused Ferguson in September.

“For some reason, it seems to me they [the press] are desperate for the boy to fail. I don’t understand it. They will all want interviews when he is doing well.”

Six months on and the tidal wave of revisionism flows freely. Some praise followed de Gea’s outstanding performance at Stamford Bridge in early February; barely a week after the loss to Liverpool, which had prompted some commentators to suggest the Spaniard’s time at Old Trafford was up. Assured performances against Norwich City, Tottenham, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers demands even more.

On Monday night, at Ewood, two outstanding saves kept United in the game as the home side tried, and failed, to break the Reds as the game seemed destined for a goalless draw.

Indeed, de Gea’s phone – or more accurately his agent’s – will now be ringing off-the-hook with media requests such is the turnaround. If the Madrileño was culpable for goals conceded earlier in the season, then he undoubtedly saved United points against Chelsea, Norwich, Fulham and Blackburn.

Barclay, who in October accused United fans offering de Gea support of being “trolls,” only partially revised his former position, claiming in October last year that his was merely an observation, correct at the time. The Scot has said nothing on the subject since. Ferguson, and his “millions of coaches” who bought “a jelly,” might wonder when Barclay will take a step further and bite down on humble pie.

Other commentators will be forced to offer revisions to premature judgement too, as de Gea eventually – inevitably some might say – blossoms into one of the world’s finest goalkeepers, as his talent – evident to those who, unlike Barclay, have watched the kid from an earlier age – shines through.

“David de Gea made three fantastic saves to keep us in the game,” said Ferguson on Monday, echoing words he has now become accustomed to repeating.

“Although we had all the possession, we couldn’t create the openings to get in front. Javier Hernandez hit the post and we had a penalty kick claim – I didn’t think it was – so David has done his bit for the team. He has really grown in stature the boy. He was outstanding.”

Now five points clear – possibly eight by next weekend’s end – Bright is increasingly likely to be proven wrong. Both in United’s ascent to the Premier League title, and de Gea’s role in it.

Some, like Spanish commentator Guillermo Balague, never questioned the youngster’s ability to make it at United: “People doubting David de Gea? Seriously? It will be a feast of eaten words at the end of the season,” he said with much prescience in August.

It is a pity his English colleagues lacked the same patience.

Patience required for de Gea’s time to come

January 30, 2012 Tags: Reads 29 comments

Fans, so the cliché goes, can be fickle. Indeed, supporters’ frustration, together with social media’s immediacy, has created the impression that Manchester United fans swing from one instant reaction to the next. One mistake, a poor game, let alone defeat, results in a tsunami of opinion, often debased to mindless vitriolic abuse.

The rush to judgement frustrates at times; a point articulated in January’s United We Stand by editor Andy Mitten. Yet, few supporters’ opinions are formed with the agenda that often dominates the mainstream media. Cruel as supporters are at times, the opinions proffered on Twitter, blogs, Facebook and other communities rarely come with a sense of premeditation. It is both a strength and weakness of the medium.

This dichotomy may not be one United goalkeeper David de Gea is considering today, barely 48 hours after both media, and some supporters, criticised the 20-year-old Spaniard for his part in United’s defeat to Liverpool at the weekend. Indeed, while de Gea has a reasonably active Twitter account it is almost exclusively used in the Spanish language. Given the views expressed by some on Saturday, this is surely for the best.

Yet, a handful of albeit noisy Twitteratti holds no candle to the mainstream media when it comes to damning judgement. This includes broadcaster ITV whose commentary team of Clive Tyldsley and Jim Beglin were so quick to lambast the former Atlético de Madrid stopper. Blamed instantaneously for both goals by co-commentator Beglin, de Gea was quickly fingered as United’s key weak link.

So too has the print media, with stories of de Gea’s quality – or lack thereof – following the youngster since debut in pre-season. This was a story simply too good to miss.

That said, at times de Gea looked concurrently nervous, furlorn and robbed of all confidence at Anfield. Routine crosses were dropped, while the Spaniard’s normally outstanding distribution suffered too. It has been a testing campaign for the youngster, as it was always going to be.

Still, two days later and the rush to judge seems as erroneous now as it did then. Objective review of Liverpool’s two goals at Anfield places the blame at the doorstep of others, with de Gea suffering for the mistakes of his back-four. Indeed, Liverpool’s first, nodded home by defender Daniel Agger, was largely thanks to an unchallenged header. The host’s second came when Patrice Evra wondered out of position and allowed Dirk Kuyt a free shot inside the area.

It is a point hammered home by perennially injured striker Michael Owen, who took to Twitter to defend his younger colleague.

“One comment on yesterdays game. Don’t agree with all this negativity towards De Gea,” Owen Tweeted on Sunday.

“Admittedly he has made a couple of mistakes this season but listening to some people you would think he had a nightmare yesterday. I’m not having either goal was his fault. The problem is, once you get labelled, mud sticks and now any tiny mistake is magnified. Other keepers make similar mistakes and nothing gets said.

“The lad will be a top keeper, he is only young. Harsh to blame him for everything. The fans know he needs their support, his confidence needs boosting. I’m sure he will repay that support for years to come.”

Indeed, even the very best have suffered in the harsh spotlight of the United net. Even the greatest, Peter Schmeichel, suffered a testing first campaign at Old Trafford. Meanwhile, Edwin van der Sar made several glaring errors in a otherwise outstanding six seasons with the club. The opening goal of the 2009 Champions League final, for example, saw van der Sar beaten at the near post – a goal scored with barely a murmur from supporters.

Anders Lindegaard, the Spaniard’s immediate competition for a spot in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, has made errors too, although of the less obvious variety. Recall the Dane’s weak hand as Robin van Persie shot across, but very close to, Lindegaard at the Emirates.

de Gea’s real mistake, it seems, is to have built a reputation far too early in his United career. Earlier this season, thanks to Edin Džeko’s long-range strike at Wembley in August, de Gea’s goal was peppered from outside the area. Now, the opposition simply plans to beat up on the slightly built youngster. Liverpool repeatedly launched long balls into the United area.

Reputations in this sport are far harder to dispel than create – a truism that Tyldsley, and especially Beglin, have bought into.

Yet, those who have watched de Gea blossom from Atléti B teamer, to the teenager who was such an important part of the club’s 2010 Europa League win, will remain confident. Ferguson and his coaching staff, who spent months tracking the Spanish under-21 international, will surely remain stoic in the face of media onslaught.

Surely de Gea’s troubles have everything to do with confidence and a lengthy period of adjustment, rather than shortage of talent. Thrust into the spotlight, under pressure to succeed one of the very greatest, and miles from home, there can be no surprise that de Gea has not yet fulfilled his potential.

The question, of course, is how quickly the ‘keeper will find his feet, given the right environment and support. The player is certainly not helped by an ever-changing back four, goalkeeping rotation or, indeed, Ferguson’s rather odd decision to recall the ‘keeper amid the intense heat of an Anfield cup tie.

Yet, others are unsure about de Gea’s make up, including former Red Paul Parker.

“It was not really the Spaniard’s errors that were the problem for me; I thought his mistakes for both goals were relatively minor and he was undone by some poor defending,” adds Yahoo! pundit, Parker.

“What really bothered me was his apparently complete lack of confidence. It makes me wonder if he will be able to handle the scrutiny he is under at the moment. When most goalkeepers make mistakes they get angry – nearly all offer some sort of reaction. De Gea doesn’t do anything at all. He is expressionless, and looks lost.

“Peter Schmeichel made the odd howler, which usually stemmed from making a rash decision – but at least he did something. De Gea’s mistakes come from not doing anything. He freezes, and appears indecisive.”

It is an astute observation by Parker, but one that does not chime with de Gea’s performances in Madrid, where the player’s confidence and maturity so often came to the fore.

It is a cliché, but at just 21 time is certainly on de Gea’s side. For Ferguson and United the equation is different. Taking de Gea out of the firing line now necessitates an extended spell for Lindegaard, a solid if unspectacular ‘keeper whom few will bracket among the very best of his profession.

The delicate balancing act of weighing de Gea’s development against United’s immediate priorities will continue. Good job, then, that in Ferguson the ‘keeper has a manager who is unlikely to bow to media pressure, whether from the mainstream or grassroots.

De Gea trouble nothing if not predictable

August 15, 2011 Tags: Reads 26 comments

David de Gea’s difficult start in English football is, of course, a lesson in predictability. Errors against both Manchester City in the Community Shield and West Bromwich Albion on Sunday in the Premier League have brought concerned looks from teammates and critical reviews from the nation’s media.

Neither comes as a surprise, with the former Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper barely out of his teens, ensconced in a Manchester hotel and struggling with the language. Focus for even the most experienced player moving team and country is hard to achieve; in a difficult position and in the media’s full glare de Gea’s early-season errors are certainly forgivable.

That the 20-year-old Spaniard is the subject of sarcastic headlines, knee-jerk reaction and character assassination is little more than par-for-the-course from a British media obsessed with negativity.

Indeed, on the season’s eve Sir Alex Ferguson warned that de Gea will require patience, a statement incorrectly interpreted as a lack of faith in the 20-year-old in some quarters. Nothing could be further from the truth with Manchester United having followed the Spanish Under-21 international for months before choosing de Gea ahead of more experienced rivals. In doing so Ferguson bought raw talent that will take time to adjust to a new country, style of football and the pressure inherent at Old Trafford.

Little surprise then that the 69-year-old Scot should back de Gea now, after the Spaniard failed to deal with Eden Džeko’s long-range effort at Wembley, while allowing Shane Long’s tame shot under his body on Sunday.

“He is young. He will learn. He will come through,” said the United boss, who is unlikely to drop de Gea in favour of Anders Lindegaard for Tottenham Hotspur’s visit in a weeks time.

“David’s concentration cost him the goal. It was a slack goal to lose but it is an experience for the lad. I couldn’t believe he never got a free-kick in the second-half. The aerial assault on him was ridiculous. It was the same when Peter Schmeichel came. They punished him in his first few games against Leeds and Wimbledon. They have him a real torrid time.

“In the second-half today David he was targeted a bit. Not necessarily physically but there were a lot of challenges that should have been free-kicks but the referee decided to play on. He took a battering in the second half, when he should have been protected more by the referee but he wasn’t. Welcome to English football!”

There is little chance that Ferguson will drop de Gea for Spurs’ visit given the damaging effect to the player’s confidence that omission would surely bring. But the United coach is faced with deploying a hugely inexperienced back-four against the Londoners with injuries beginning to bite. Rio Ferdinand’s hamstring strain will keep the 32-year-old on the sidelines for at least six weeks, while captain Nemanja Vidić is out for a fortnight with a trapped nerve. With Patrice Evra also on the sidelines United completed Sunday’s match fielding a defence aged just 20.6 on average.

That inexperience – both in age and games played for the club – will face sterner tests than that of West Brom, a good side though Roy Hodgson has produced over the past six months. Following Spurs’ visit next Monday, United face trips to Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City, with home matches against Arsenal and Chelsea to come before Ferdinand returns. Life is unlikely to become any easier for United’s callow new goalkeeper.

Yet in analysing de Gea’s competitive performances to date it is also easy to overstate the player’s errors and ignore his many qualities. True, two goals have been scored which most ‘keepers at the highest level would expect to stop. The Madrid-born stopper also made two excellent saves at Wembley in the second period and a similar number at the Hawthornes. Add smart distribution to the list and de Gea’s raw talent is not in doubt.

Physically Ferguson team will work with the player, much as Javier Hernández endured a specialised weight training course for six months last season. However, those denizens of the long-ball at the Britannia Stadium will note West Brom’s attempts to rough-up de Gea on Sunday. Referee Stuart Jones studiously ignored three clear fouls on United’s number one in the Midlands; Ferguson will hope de Gea is offered better support in the weeks and months to come.

Questions of physique aside it the mental side of the Spaniard’s game that is of greatest concern to Ferguson now. The unflappable personality so highly praise by the Scot when de Gea officially signed in July will be tested severely in the coming weeks.

It is cliché but also a truism that at Old Trafford talent only goes so far. Behind the scenes Ferguson and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele will be working to rid the player of fear – another great requirement for any United player.

de Gea starts as Fergie urges ‘keeper patience

July 20, 2011 Tags: , Reads 18 comments

Manchester United’s new €20 million goalkeeper David de Gea could start his first match for the club against Seattle Sounders on Thursday morning but manager Sir Alex Ferguson has warned that fans may need to be patient with the 20-year-old former Atlético de Madrid player. The player joined training with his new colleagues this week but the Spaniard will face a challenge from Anders Lindegaard for United’s goalkeeping position warned Ferguson.

Ferguson spoke ahead of United’s second match of the US tour, with the Reds facing MLS champions Sounders in the Pacific north-west. While de Gea will play his first United match at CenturyLink Field, Ferguson says the Madrid-born ‘keeper must adjust both to life in the Old Trafford spotlight and the rigours of Premier League football.

It had appeared unthinkable that the United manager would leave  his expensive new acquisition on the bench come the start of the Premier League season in just over three weeks, but Ferguson can also use Lindegaard and Ben Amos on tour in the States. Indeed, 26-year-old Dane Lindegaard started against New England Revolution last Wednesday, with Tomasz Kuszczak left in Manchester to close a move away from the club.

“The only area where we may have to be patient is in the goalkeeping position,” Ferguson told reporters in Seattle on Tuesday.

“De Gea is only 20, he’s young. He’s played in the Spanish league for a couple of years, but it’s not the English league. I think he’ll need time to settle in, but the potential is enormous. It’s absolutely unbelievable, the potential the boy has got. We’ve also got Anders Lindegaard, so we may get a challenge for them both to accept, but in time the boy De Gea will make it his position, there’s no doubt about that.”

Ferguson may consider allowing de Gea time to settle into the club as the new season begins, despite the player’s hefty price tag, which makes the 20-year-old Spaniard the second most expensive goalkeeper in history. It is, perhaps, a risky strategy with Lindegaard also inexperienced at the highest level after a journeyman career to date.

Ferguson’s words also recall the damaging stand-off between Tim Howard and Roy Carroll in 2004/5 before Edwin van der Sar joined from Fulham. The Northern Irishman started 34 games in all competitions, with Howard between the sticks for 27 but neither settled into the role, seemingly undermined and not inspired by competition.

For his part Lindegaard has shown admirable patience since joining the club in January. Sidelined first by van der Sar’s consistency in the Dutchman’s final season, and then by a knee injury, Lindegaard has waited more than six months for an opportunity. The Dane is relishing the challenge.

“The boss told me when I came that he doesn’t care how you look, what your name is, your price tag or what your religion is because, if you’re good enough, you’re going to play,” Lindegaard said earlier this week.

“That’s the same with all the places at Manchester United. The best man plays and that’s how it is and how it should be. There’s been a lot of talk about De Gea, but my focus isn’t on him because I won’t gain anything from that. My focus is what I can do something about, and that’s playing games.

“I didn’t come to pick my nose or to sit on the bench and watch football as a privileged fan. I’m here to play and make my way and earn my respect. Edwin had a huge name at United and earned his way to where he was. He was a legend here and one of the top two goalkeepers ever to play for the club.

“I guess him retiring makes the spot available and it’s the most attractive goalkeeping job in the world. It’s the job everybody wants and I’m no different.”

Lindegaard impressed against Revolution last week but is likely to warm the bench as United begins the second of a five match tour. The squad, including Ferguson’s three ‘keepers, spent a week of training and preparation at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon before moving on to Seattle today.

de Gea’s relaxed work out with Eric Steele on Tuesday included instructions in rudimentary Spanish from the veteran coach, with the youngster yet to learn English. It is a challenge the club will correct quickly, with communication between Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and the ‘keeper essential.

yet despite Ferguson’s warning that de Gea may not claim the number one shirt from August, and concerns about how the youngster will settle in England, the Scot has little doubt about his new ‘keeper’s talent.

“Youth, age, it doesn’t matter when you have the ability of a goalkeeper like de Gea has,” added the United manager last week.

“He’s young, he’s quick and he has fantastic presence and composure. His use of the ball is outstanding. All of these plus points are things that don’t go away. He’s got these natural things.”

It’s a claim that United supporters will review for the first time in the early hours of Thursday morning.

In safe hands: David de Gea profile

June 6, 2011 Tags: , Reads 65 comments

Having played less than 100 competitive first team games, Manchester United’s €20 million acquisition of Atlético Madrid’s David de Gea represents a significant risk. Indeed, in replacing Edwin van der Sar with a callow youth – de Gea is not 21 until November – Sir Alex Ferguson is taking a potentially huge gamble next season. But it’s a risk that is almost certainly worth taking, with the Madrid-born stopper offering the potential to be the world’s best in his position.

de Gea’s move comes after Old Trafford scouts followed the ‘keeper for almost two years as the Spanish under-21 international grew from ‘B’ level football at the start of the 2009/10 campaign, to the cusp of the World Cup squad nine months later. Those observers, which included Ferguson during the now infamous ‘scouting trip’ to Valencia last autumn, have witnessed a player mature from the kid who led Spain to the under-17 World Cup final in 2007, to a ‘keeper of authority and composure at Atlético.

Indeed, de Gea’s uncanny likeness to van der Sar will provide reassurance to supporters and team mates alike, despite the player’s lack of experience. At 6′ 5″, with a seemingly unflappable personality, many feel de Gea possesses both the physical and mental attributes to make it at Old Trafford.

Certainly, Ferguson expressed few doubts when United broke the official media silence after Gary Neville’s testimonial in late May.

“We’ve been working on it for quite a while. We identified him quite a while back as one we should go for,” admitted the 69-year-old United boss.

“He’s a young goalkeeper, very quick, good composure, presence and an outstanding replacement for Van der Sar. We were looking for the same type of qualities as Edwin, because the one great quality Edwin always had was his composure and organisational ability. With David De Gea, he is very similar that way.”

Although the deal is now in place with both Atlético and the player the official announcement will take place after de Gea has officially terminated an agreement with his current agent Hector Rincon on 31 June. In all probability the Madrileño will sign on with Jorge Mendes’ Gestifute – the agency that brought United Nani, Anderson and Bébé – and be unveiled to the media on Friday 1 July, when the international transfer window opens.

In the meantime planning is well advanced for de Gea’s introduction to Manchester, with the inevitable culture shock that the move will bring. The youngster is moving to England with his parents and popstar girlfriend Edurne. The player’s London-based sister will also help integrate the family into English life, according to those close to the deal.

However, it has been a difficult campaign at Atlético as the player’s form suffered under the weight of pressure, both from United’s spring offer and inevitable ‘season season syndrome’. Mistakes have come aplenty as Atlético shipped 53 goals in La Liga, missing out on a place in Europe next season.

Yet, few observers believe that de Gea is anything bar top class, including those closest to the 20-year-old.

“This has been an irregular season. He’s had his head confused because of all the rumours. At times he didnt sleep well but we’ve seen what a marvelous talent he is,” Spanish pundit Guileme Balague told Talkradio recently.

“I’ve spoken to van der Sar about him and said ‘what do you think of him?’ He said: ‘he’s got everything’. He is van der Sar. The man can play the ball. He’s very tall, his heart goes very slow, he doesn’t get the tension.”

However cool-headed, de Gea will inevitably come under huge pressure to perform at United, with every mistake scrutinised by the media and fans alike. After all Atlético – Spain’s ‘third club’ – is rarely in the running for the country’s major honours in an age of Real and Barcelona’s Spanish duopoly. This despite lifting the 2010 UEFA Europea League and Vincente Calderon’s notoriously demanding fans.

Former Red Ricardo López, who played just five games for the club over three years, says that de Gea’s personality will see him through the inevitable tough times ahead.

“De Gea doesn’t have nerves. I’m convinced that De Gea is good enough to play for Manchester United,” claimed Ricardo.

“He’s big, quick and his concentration is at a high level throughout the game. He’s comfortable with high balls and is very confident despite being so young.
 There are very few goalkeepers who can deal with that.

 Some goalkeepers need to feel the confidence of the manager. De Gea is the type of goalkeeper who can give the manager confidence.

“He does not worry when he plays against Barcelona or Real Madrid. That is a good sign because some goalkeepers become nervous when they play in front of big crowds in the biggest stadiums like Old Trafford.”

Before de Gea makes his Theatre of Dreams début he will represent Spain at this summer’s Euro Under 21 championships in Denmark, appearing against England in the group stages. The tournament will offer an early view to those Reds curious about the new signing, including new team mates Chris Smalling, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck.

Quick Facts

David de Gea Quintana

Born: Madrid, Spain 7 November 1990

– Atlético B: 35
– Atlético Madrid: 84
– Spanish age groups (U15, U17, U20, U21): 39

– FIFA U-17 World Cup Runner-up: 2007
– UEFA Europa League: 2010
– UEFA Super Cup: 2010
– UEFA European Under-21 Championship 2011

Poll: which ‘keeper to replace Edwin?

April 22, 2011 Tags: , , Polls 31 comments

Manchester United seems to have settled on Atletico Madrid’s David De Gea as Edwin van der Sar’s Old Trafford successor. The brilliant but inexperienced 20-year-old Spaniard could arrive this summer for around € 20 million, although the player is reportedly unsure about such a high profile role this early in a fledgling career.

But with German Manuel Neuer opting for a move to Bayern Munich this summer, Tomasz Kuszack likely to leave the club, and Anders Lindegaard untested at the highest level, who should get the role?

Who should replace Edwin van der Sar?

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Reds set to confirm £3.5m Lindegaard with De Gea on horizon

November 18, 2010 Tags: , , Reads 40 comments

Manchester United will seal a £3.5 million deal for Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard in the next few days, with the player moving to Old Trafford in January, according to reports today. Lindegaard, currently on the books of Norwegian Tippeligaen outfit Aalesunds FK, is the first of two possible goalkeeping acquisitions before next summer.

United expect Edwin van der Sar to retire and number two Tomasz Kuszazck is likely to leave the club, with first team opportunities limited.

Aalesunds’ representatives were seen at Old Trafford today, although United ceo David Gill was absent at a Football Association board meeting in London. However, with the Norwegian club keen to push through a deal, formalities might conclude before the weekend. Last night Lindegaard appeared to bid farewell to his colleagues.

“I don’t know if I have played my last match for Aalesund,” Lindegaard told Sporten.dk.

“My plan is to move on now. You have got to be a very good goalkeeper to get sold these days.”

Lindegaard, 26, has just appeared in just under 100 professional games in a less than stellar career to date. However, the Dane has made astonishing progress over the past year. Having been used mainly as a back-up for the first six seasons as a pro, Lindegaard looked to be drifting out of the professional game.

Indeed, the ‘keeper was originally offered to Aalesunds on trial, and after impressing during an 18-game loan spell from Danish side OB Odense, he permanently signed for the Western Norwegian outfit. Somewhat ironically, former Red Roy Carroll’s arrival at OB signalled Lindegaard’s departure.

Aalesunds finished 4th in the Tippeligaen last season and won the Norwegian cup for the first time in the club’s short history in 2009.

Tor-Kristian Karlsen, the football consultant and scout familiar to many on social-networking site Twitter, described the player as a “good old fashion goalkeeper, nothing flash, not really a great footballer but suits English football.”

He is a “punt for first choice, more than adequate for second or third and it won’t have been an expensive deal,” he added.

Glowing reports of Lindegaard’s performances earned the 6’4″ stopper a first call-up to the national team this season, making his international début for Denmark in September, which has now extended to four caps. Lindegaard kept a clean sheet in last night’s friendly international match against the Czech Republic, which ended 0-0.

Despite Lindegaard’s growing stature it is not thought he will be the only goalkeeping acqusition at Old Trafford, as United seek to minimise the disruption when van der Sar quits in June 2011.

Mindful of the botched attempt to replace Peter Schmeichel in 1999, United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele has watched Lindegaard on no less than five occasions this season together with a raft of other talent throughout Europe.

When Schmeichel semi-retired to the sunnier climes of Portugal after the 1999 Champions League final, the club embarked on a road of mediocrity, signing at least seven ‘first choice’ goalkeepers – and others – before eventually settling on van der Sar in summer 2005. It came six years too late.

Indeed, United has watched David de Gea, Manuel Neuer, Hugo Lloris and Igor Akinfeev in particular over the past year. Few supporters would have picked out Lindegaard though, essentially a journeyman stopper for the best part of an underwhelming career.

However, United is also rumoured to be on the brink of signing David de Gea, the brilliant Spain Under-21 international, from Atlético Madrid in a deal worth €17.5 million. Madrid-based sports ‘paper Marca today said the only remaining issue is whether the 20-year-old joins United is January or next summer.

This view was dismissed by Atlético president Enrique Cerezo today, with the Spanish side notoriously hard-nosed about transfer negotiations.

“Nobody has talked to us. Nor do I have a clue about this matter,” Cerezo claimed.

“We hope that David de Gea remains an Atlético Madrid player for a very long time.”

de Gea started last season as Atléti’s third choice but injuries and form forced the youngster into the spotlight during a run to the Europa League final. Such were the Madrid-born player’s performances that he made Spain’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad last summer, eventually losing out to more experienced rivals.