David De Gea may function as everybody’s favourite scapegoat and a media pariah, but there’s no doubt that he managed to pull off one of the saves of the season during Man United’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea on Sunday. What’s more, it could go on to be one of the most important saves of the season if United can build on this draw and go on to give City a real run for their money. In a very real sense, if anybody other than De Gea had been in goal for United, they would have lost the game.
The save came in the 91st minute of the game from a Juan Mata free-kick that looked to be heading straight into the top right corner. Fortunately for the Red Devils, De Gea was able to extend and palm the ball away. Even now when watching the save again, it’s difficult to see how De Gea was able to react so quickly, cover enough ground and get his hand to the ball. Credit where it’s due, it was a fantastic save.
Despite this, however, even the most ardent United fan has to admit that it’s a fantastic save from a remarkably inconsistent player. I think there’s an unflattering comparison to be made between De Gea and the likes of Heurelho Gomes and Manuel Almunia. All three players are great shot-stoppers, but don’t have any command of their areas, struggle to deal with long balls and make too many mistakes.
The trouble is, Manuel Almunia is on his way out at Arsenal and Gomes isn’t getting games at Spurs. United on the other hand spent £18m on De Gea in the summer and more or less have to play him. Whilst his excellent shot-stopping could come in handy like it did against Chelsea, could his inexperience end up costing United points in the long run?
The main thing that De Gea has on his side is time. Whilst Gomes is 31 and Almunia is 34, De Gea is just 21-years-old and still has plenty of time to grow and cut the mistakes out of his game. Indeed, it’s not that unnatural for a youngster to make the odd mistake given the level of pressure at the very top of the game.
The question still remains however; does De Gea have the potential to be great? I’m not so sure about that. If you compare him to Wojciech Szczesny, who is also 21-years-old the gulf in class is clear. Whilst Szczesny does have the odd worrying moment, his class and talent isthere for everybody to see. This is mainly a result of his confidence; he believes in himself and has the ability to back this up.
When it comes to De Gea it’s unclear whether he has the ability but lacks the confidence or if he just doesn’t have what it takes.
But what’s your take? Does he have the potential to go on and be great?
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