Man United FC

Watch – Erik ten Hag and David de Gea moment caught on camera proves Manchester United have dilemma

David de Gea is presently negotiating a new deal with Manchester United, but his distribution remains a source of concern.

Erik ten Hag addressed only one Manchester United player after the final whistle on Thursday night: David de Gea.

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Ten Hag spoke with De Gea on the pitch as the multitudes inside Old Trafford cheered the players for their superb response following the Anfield fiasco, and it felt significant that he was the only player he felt essential to talk with.

Ten Hag put his arm around De Gea, the two exchanged glances, and both smiled, though the mood between manager and goalkeeper would not have been as upbeat had Real Betis punished his dreadful first-half error.

Real Betis almost took the lead shortly after Ayoze Perez equalized as De Gea threw the ball straight to the opponents. They then hit the far post, and De Gea’s blushes were only saved by a matter of inches.

De Gea had enough time on the ball to make the correct option, but he has a history of panicking while in possession, and he somehow picked out a direct pass to Betis forward Juanmi, who couldn’t believe his good fortune.

De Gea had several options in that situation, and he selected the worst one. He could have cleared the ball left or right, attempted but failed to pass to Lisandro Martinez, or cleared it through the middle.

A goalkeeper who is comfortable with the ball at their feet, which is a must in the current game for a player in that position, would have played the pass to Martinez with reasonable ease, but De Gea lost control.

His distribution has always been suspect, but it was highlighted once again against Real Betis. De Gea never looked sure on the ball, and he appeared to make a mistake while receiving it, as Betis pressed him.

“I can’t ignore it, but I think we’ve seen many games when he did pretty well,” Ten Hag said after the game. I’m not sure what the rationale was for today. There was a lot of wind, and a new ball, and he most likely had some issues with it.

“I know we can deal with it and he will do better Sunday. We work on [his kicking], but David works on it as well. But I believe we’ve seen this season that he’s progressing and will continue to improve.”

It would be unfair to evaluate a goalie based on one mistake, given no goalkeeper has ever made a mistake in their career, but there is compelling evidence that De Gea’s error was not a one-off.

The 32-year-old was once regarded as the world’s top goalkeeper, but the game has changed and he has failed to adapt, making him an out-of-date player at a club looking to the future.

De Gea has put in good performances this season, but there are still questions about his long-term suitability to be prominently involved in the club’s development, with Ten Hag preferring his goalkeepers to comfortably play out from the back.

That is the long-term ambition, and De Gea does not share it, despite making commendable progress in that area this season.

He appeared to be able to play for another season, the 2023/24 season, but his performance against Betis resurrected an old topic about whether recruiting a replacement goalkeeper should be prioritized since some believe it is a pressing matter.

Although De Gea is only the 11th player in United history to achieve 500 games, and he recently eclipsed Peter Schmeichel’s clean sheet record, there is little room for sentimentality in a decision on his future.

Ten Hag respects De Gea and should be treated as such, given his excellent service to the club, but he may be obliged to make a decision that the Spaniard will not like or agree with.

De Gea’s contract expires this summer, but United has the option to extend it for another year. He is currently negotiating a new contract with lower terms; however, that contract has not yet been agreed upon, and talks may yet be terminated.

The discussion around De Gea boils down to one essential question: is Ten Hag willing to spend another season with him as a first-choice goalkeeper, or does he consider purchasing a new, progressive goalkeeper an immediate priority?

Ten Hag has seen enough to make that choice, and the result will be made public soon.


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