This summer’s ‘will he, won’t he’ transfer sagas seem destined to centre around Manchester United and Real Madrid; whether it is Gareth Bale heading to Manchester or David de Gea making the move to Spain.
With the goalkeeper’s potential move to Los Blancos already making newspaper columns with unerring regularity, it seems set to be the story of the summer. So can Louis van Gaal afford to lose his number one if they are to continue to progress?
When he was first acquired from Real’s cross city rivals Atletico in 2011, he struggled to find his feet and it seemed destined that the Spaniard’s stay in Manchester would be a short one. However, as he has aged and his experience increased, he has come to terms with the demands of English football and has flourished to previously unfathomable new heights.
In the past two years De Gea has been head and shoulders the best player at the club; even in the nightmare spell under David Moyes, the 24 year old consistently proved his worth and was one of the few players to come out of that chastening campaign with an ounce of credit.
If under Moyes he was quietly building his reputation, under Van Gaal this term he has established himself as one of the top goalkeepers in world football. From a young man who once seemed hapless, he is now the heir apparent to Iker Casillas, a man who has held his throne for nearly 15 years.
Aside from their keeper, United have a real dearth of genuinely world class operators; outfield, only Wayne Rooney and Angel di Maria could argue they can mix it with the world’s best.
United’s defence is currently leaky at best, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones hardly inspire confidence and without De Gea it seems entirely possible that their current weakness could be their fatal flaw.
Should the unthinkable happen and David de Gea make the move to The Bernebau, the options to replace him are aplenty. Of course he has a more than able deputy in Victor Valdes, a man who has won everything the game has to offer and should his younger Spanish counterpart leave the club, the former Barcelona man will be relishing stepping forward.
Aside from who is at the club, if rumours are to be believed Van Gaal is looking elsewhere to fill the hole that could be left by his keeper’s departure. Asmir Begovic was the subject of Sir Alex Ferguson’s interest for a number of years and the Bosnian may be the man that the current manager looks to be the new fixture in the Old Trafford goal.
If United are genuinely serious about returning to the top table in European football then keeping their stopper would be a huge signal of intent. However, should the Spaniard wish to move then United should not see it as the end of the world, players come and go and although his replacement may not reach the heights of De Gea they can use the money to ensure they are a more balanced outfit next term.
And of course if he can be used as a sweetener to acquire a certain Welshman, then why not see the positives?