|Healthy competition has always been welcome at United but will De Gea shape up or be shipped out for Dean Henderson?
Image from Manchester Evening News
In what has been a very quiet transfer window for Manchester United, one transaction that acts as a rather large “transfer in” could be Dean Henderson’s return to Old Trafford after a successful loan at Sheffield United. The United number two, and England number one goalkeeper nearly was instrumental in leading Sheffield to European football; the Blades falling just 5 points short of sixth place, and the final Europa qualification spot. Henderson was also instrumental in Sheffield winning promotion to the English Premier League for the 2019 – 2020 season.
In the 2018-2019 season, Henderson was part of a defence that conceded just 41 times in 46 matches en-route to a second-place finish in the Championship. The Blades, expected to be involved in a relegation battle heading into 2019-20, instead played among the Top 6 for most the season and finished solidly in the top half of the table.
With Henderson’s Man United future in a bit of doubt heading into this transfer window, Sheffield opted to bring back Aaron Ramsdale from his four year loan at Bournemouth according to The Guardian, and Dean Henderson is set to sign a new contract with Manchester United according to Sky Sports .
So, what does this mean for United number 1 David De Gea?
De Gea has come under some criticism in this season for a perceived drop in form from his days of being considered among the best keepers in the world, particularly being viewed as having made more mistakes than in past years with regards to coverage in the net, and with distribution.
The Spanish international has never really been pushed for the starting spot at Old Trafford with United preferring to sign keepers content to be backups most notably, Sergio Romero.
Though in a small sample size, Romero by some measures outplayed de Gea for the 2019 -2020 season. Romero kept 12 clean sheets in just 17 appearances while de Gea managed just 15 in 43 appearances.
Although it must be noted that Romero’s appearances took place mainly in smaller competitions like the Europa League and FA Cup, it is fair to say that Romero acquitted himself quite well when called upon, but never threatened de Gea’s place.
However, when Dean Henderson enters the equation, the comparisons make one question how long de Gea will remain United’s number one option in goal. Henderson and de Gea both kept 13 clean sheets in league play this past season, de Gea doing it in 38 matches while Henderson doing it in just 36 (having to sit out the two matches against Manchester United).
According to league stats, Henderson committed just one error leading to a goal, while de Gea committed three. Another key stat for United, a squad keen on transitioning quickly from defence to the attack, de Gea completed just 96 accurate long balls while Henderson completed a staggering 265.
So, is this the end of the line for de Gea? You would have to think the Spaniard still has the edge in goal, but Dean Henderson is right on his tracks.