Opinion: Man United's most valuable player De Gea cannot be allowed to leave, even for €75m

Rumours persist. Particularly those relating to David de Gea. The Spaniard wants to return to Spain. And, of course, Real Madrid is an enticing prospect for any player, the club with history and romance and still on for the first defence of the UEFA Champions League since the change in format from the European Cup.

De Gea is the second best goalkeeper in the world, most would agree, and many would suggest he is the best. Perhaps a reason he is not considered on Manuel Neuer’s level is that he isn’t competing with the elite trophies. While Neuer is facing Barcelona and Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League, de Gea is facing Zorya Luhansk and Anderlecht or Fenerbahce in the UEFA Europa League.

De Gea has his reasons to leave

For a world-class player, de Gea is not currently on a world-class stage.

Some Manchester United fans have been surprisingly blasé about de Gea’s importance to the club, though. There is no purchasable goalkeeper of equal quality in the world. There are only two goalkeepers at de Gea’s level; Neuer and Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. Neuer is an immovable presence at Bayern Munich, a club who sell when they want to sell. Courtois will not be sold by Roman Abramovich, particularly not to Man United and José Mourinho. So neither will be sold by their respective clubs.

The options, therefore, are limited. Any goalkeeper is a downgrade on de Gea. €75m has been a figure thrown about in recent weeks while Toni Kroos and Alvaro Morata’s names have been mentioned as key to the deal in Marca on Friday morning.

Spaniard is worth far more than Pogba

Neither money nor either of those two players are worth David de Gea, even the two together. United have no worries about money, none. They have more financial muscle than Real Madrid, even. They are football’s richest club with a CEO proud to show off their huge transfer kitty in Ed Woodward.

Aside from simply being a world-class goalkeeper who is only matched by two or three others in football, de Gea has taken time to mould into that quality of goalkeeper by three goalkeeping coaches at Old Trafford. There were two years of inconsistency, flapping at corners, mistakes, a stick-thin body. The bulky presence of de Gea is irreplaceable at United.

A new goalkeeper would have to do the same, assuming United don’t pay horrendously over the odds for a Premier League player like Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris. De Gea has never had injury problems, or attitude problems for that matter.

The only problem he has is the consistent allure of a return to family, friends and his home city with Real Madrid. De Gea is worth more than any player in United’s side. Good goalkeepers are far rarer than a world-class midfielder like Paul Pogba or a world-class centre-forward. It will be a disaster for United if the de Gea saga finally ends and he leaves to Real Madrid.

There won’t be any furore towards de Gea for his choice. United fans can understand his sentiments. But it cannot be allowed to happen, even for €75m, even for two world-class outfielders in return.