David de Gea crowned the Players’ Player of the Year

David de Gea has been crowned as the Players’ Player of the Year by his Manchester United teammates. De Gea has been consistent throughout the 2020/21 season and has been one of the only bright sparks in United’s season. So let’s take a look at how De Gea has performed throughout the campaign.

De Gea saves United

Under both Ralf Rangnick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, De Gea has saved United from the jaws of defeat. The Spaniard made a remarkable start to the season and produced multiple stunning saves in the first six fixtures. De Gea denied Armstrong from close range in the 1-1 draw with Southampton before earning man of the match in the next clash against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The 31-year-old kept a clean sheet against Wolves and received all the plaudits after his amazing double save to deny Romain Saiss. The goalkeeper became the hero again, this time saving Mark Noble’s last minute penalty to secure the all-important three points. After the final whistle, he was mobbed by his teammates and coaches, who were in awe of his sensational save.

De Gea’s form did dip slightly in November. The Spanish international made two mistakes in Italy against Atalanta. He let Ilicic’s effort creep underneath his body and didn’t come off his line to deny Zapata from close range. In the Manchester derby, de Gea made a plethora of saves but let Bernado Silva’s tame finish creep into the corner.

Over the next few months the Red Devils’ form went downhill, however de Gea’s performances did not. The keeper was equally impressive in the UEFA Champions League where he made an array of fingertip saves against Villarreal. Even after Solskjaer’s departure, the keeper continued his fine form.

He kept a clean sheet in Spain in Carrick’s first game in charge and put in a man of the match display against Chelsea in the next game. Under Rangnick, de Gea kept clean sheets against Crystal Palace, Norwich, West Ham, Brighton, Watford and Brentford. The keeper also put in some remarkable performances in the games against Newcastle, Aston Villa and Leicester.

The other contenders

Although de Gea accumulated a total of seven man of the match awards during the campaign, there were other contenders for this prestigious award. Cristiano Ronaldo, who also earned seven man of the match awards, was another favourite for this award. Ronaldo was United’s top scorer this season and at times won games on his own for the Reds. The Portuguese international had an instant impact on team morale and performances and was one of United’s best performers.

Ronaldo had an impressive campaign but was beaten by de Gea for this award. This was mainly because of de Gea’s consistency. De Gea has performed at an exceptionally high standard in every game, whereas Ronaldo did have a lengthy run without scoring and was dropped from the starting eleven. Both players had good individual campaigns and are likely to be at the club next season.

The other contender for this award was Brazilian maestro Fred. The midfielder has been heavily criticised for some of his performances over the last few years, however he has been superb this season. Many would argue Fred was the best player during Rangnick’s tenure.

The 29-year-old has now featured heavily for Rangnick and Solskjaer and has even forced his way into the Brazil setup. Fred doesn’t alway have the quality United need, but he always puts in a shift and tries to win the ball back with his pressing. The only thing stopping him from winning this award. was probably his goal contributions. Despite racking up ten goals and assists, the midfielder needs to add more to that side of his game.

Room for improvement for de Gea?

De Gea has now won the Player’s Player of the Year on four occasions. A club record. However many fans believe there is room for improvement in de Gea’s game. Although, the Spaniard is an elite shot stopper, he is yet to showcase some other fundamental abilities of a modern-day keeper. With the game evolving every year, the demands on goalkeepers are also increasing.

Goalkeepers are now expected to be good on the ball and actually help their side build from the back. Evidently, this can be seen with Brazilian goalkeepers Allison and Ederson. However, de Gea’s distribution is sub-par and this is something which needs addressing next season.

Next season, the Old Trafford faithful will want to see a much more confident and commanding goalkeeper. On many occasions this season, de Gea has been unable to come off his line and claim crosses. Coinciding with this, de Gea fails to come off his line and close down the angle for attackers and this is something Erik Ten Hag will want to rectify.

It is likely that de Gea is given a year to improve and showcase his talents. Therefore, he is likely to be at the club next season. However, if the keeper fails to adapt to Ten Hag’s style, he could find himself behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order.

Despite this, de Gea has stood out in a very difficult campaign for United. The keeper has played every single minute in the Premier League and is now under consideration for the captaincy for next season.

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Author: Rajan Sangha

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