The Current Scenario at Old Trafford
The number one spot in the goalkeeping department at Old Trafford has had a stark contrast before and after the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Ever since the 2018 World Cup campaign with Spain, David De Gea hasn't been the same.
A drop in the assurance with which he keeps goal, a lack of confidence while handling the ball even in the simplest of situations; all in all, De Gea has been nowhere near the world-class levels that are expected of him.
Occasional flashes of brilliance in otherwise lacklustre performances have been typical of De Gea in recent times. However, is that enough to oust the Spaniard altogether from the No.1 spot at Manchester United?
A major factor in the midst of this 'mini-crisis' of sorts in the goalkeeping department at Man United is the form of Dean Henderson, the Man United goalkeeping sensation who spent this season out on loan at Sheffield United.
And, his performances have been nothing short of world-class: 36 Premier League appearances and 13 clean sheets.
With the Euros scheduled for next year, Henderson would want to continue his strong run of form with regular playing time to stay in contention for the No.1 spot in the England national team, against the likes of Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford.
Adding a third dimension to this conundrum is Sergio Romero - the no.1 in the Argentinian national team has been more than an able backup option at Old Trafford.
Despite extremely restricted playing time, Romero has been extremely professional and dependable when called upon and appears to be United's pick for the Europa League campaign going into the semi-final versus Sevilla this Sunday.
With three world-class goalkeepers in contention for the No.1 spot in the United starting XI, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a real selection dilemma going into next season.
And, going by his recent quotes before United's Europa League quarter-final victory versus Copenhagen, he does admit that keeping all three of them at the club could prove to be a little difficult, given the high standards and lofty ambitions of all three goalkeepers.
Solskjær on Dean Henderson: "Competition for places is good. It'll be difficult to keep three of them at the club. So we'll see what the decision will be there." #mulive— utdreport (@utdreport) August 9, 2020
Is there a solution that satisfies all those involved?
That's a very subjective question, however, given the current scenario at United - three factors are to be considered before arriving at a possible solution:
- Dean Henderson would want to be a regular starter for United and would demand regular playing time considering his chances to make the England national team for the Euros next year
- David De Gea has been the undisputed No.1 at United for some time and is currently on a massive contract. Despite recent lapses in concentration, he still has Solskjaer's backing and the support of the United faithful and the general consensus is that he deserves at least one more season to rediscover his form of old
- Sergio Romero is an experienced professional and has been extremely dependable when called upon, and with Henderson's demands for first-team football, there is hardly any reason to see beyond Romero for the backup goalkeeping role
With the above factors in consideration, a possible solution for United to solve this goalkeeping conundrum is to send Dean Henderson out on loan again for one more season.
Despite his strong run of form at Sheffield United this season, the No.1 position at Old Trafford is seen as a completely different ballgame.
One more season on loan either in the Premier League or abroad is seen as ideal to groom Henderson to take over the goalkeeping reins at Old Trafford in the seasons to come.
As reported by Chris Wheeler for Sportsmail, United are considering one more loan spell for Henderson, possibly even abroad, and could offer him better terms on his contract to avoid a situation where he has only a year left when he returns from his prospective loan spell.
Meanwhile, with regards to the upcoming season, it is the ultimate acid test for David De Gea to prove his mettle and rediscover his form of old.
With Henderson challenging him for the top spot with strong performances in his loan spells and a more than able deputy in Sergio Romero itching to get his chance off the bench, De Gea seems set to enter the challenge determined to silence his doubters, as experts and fans continue to contemplate whether De Gea will rediscover his "Midas touch" or will it turn out to be a case of "You either leave as a hero or stay long enough to see yourself become the villain."