David de Gea vs Dean Henderson, that’s the big debate and the decision Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to make this summer, ahead of the 2020/21 season.
There’s a big decision looming for Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the start of the 2020/21 season, and it’s the big decision of who he chooses out of David de Gea, or Dean Henderson to play in goal for the club.
For all those thinking it's an easy call - that after all of de Gea’s high profile mistakes of late, he has to go - you may all need to think again.
Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer really going to discard a 29 year old goalkeeper approaching his prime years? A guy with over 300 appearances, just shy of 10 years at the club! I’m not so sure he will.
For all the promise that Dean Henderson has shown at Sheffield United this season, making the step up to Number 1 at Old Trafford, is huge.
The pressures and expectations that come with playing at a club the size Manchester United are huge. It takes big personalities - with plenty of talent - to handle that pressure.
Think back to the days of Peter Schmeichel, he was a massive character who was the complete package. And for all of his recent mistakes, de Gea is the first keeper really since the Great Dane to come close to matching those performances.
It's easy for journalists and ex-pros sitting in a TV studio to announce that Henderson should be in goal for United, but it's obviously not that easy a call to make if you're Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
It could be the case that Henderson is capable of doing the job, but it is far from a certainty. Let’s take a look at the main options available to Solskjaer.
- Sell de Gea and make Henderson his Number 1
- Have both keepers at the club fighting for the Number 1 position
- Sell Henderson and keep de Gea
- Send Henderson out on loan again, and keep de Gea as Number 1
Sell David de Gea and make Dean Henderson the Old Trafford Number 1
I can’t see this happening for a number of reasons. First, as I’ve already alluded to, de Gea’s experience. This is a guy with a Premier League winners medal, an FA Cup, and two Europa Leagues (one at Atletico Madrid).
He has also been voted Fans Player of the Year four times, and Player’s Player of the Year on three occasions. He arguably has his best years ahead of him as well.
Who could or would buy de Gea?
There was previously plenty of interest in de Gea from Real Madrid. It would appear that that interest ended when Los Blancos signed Thibaut Courtois, back in 2018. Why would Real Madrid want him now?
I can’t see Atletico being able to afford to buy him back. Barcelona are well catered for in that department, as are German giants, Bayern Munich.
That only really leaves an English club, one of the Milans, Juventus, or PSG.
Of the big English clubs, maybe Chelsea? But United aren't likely to sell to a major domestic rival. Liverpool and Manchester City have better keepers, and again, no business would be done between United and either of those clubs.
Would de Gea be interested in either of the Milans? It’s debatable.
And what of Juventus? It's a move that would satisfy both parties from a footballing point of view. But Juve are widely rumoured to be looking to offload players for financial reasons. So I doubt it would be a starter.
That only leaves PSG. The French giants are rumoured to have been interested in the past, and they could certainly afford him
Both Keepers at United fighting it out
One or possibly even both keepers are going to be very unhappy in this position.
A similar thing happened at Stamford Bridge a few years back when the aforementioned Thibaut Courtois returned from a loan spell at Atletico Madrid.
Both Courtois and the experienced Petr Cech found themselves in direct competition. Cech understandably wasn’t happy sitting on the bench, and eventually left for Arsenal.
It’s hard to see this scenario unfolding at Old Trafford. And it’s not going to increase the value of de Gea if he’s sitting on the bench every week. Another reason it's unlikely to happen.
Would United consider Selling Henderson?
I don't see this being an option either. United have an impressive looking youngster on their hands, so why would they want to sell him?
There's only one way I can see Henderson leaving, and that's if he decides to force a move away from Old Trafford.
There are also only so many mistakes de Gea can make before United decide to part with the Spaniard.
If the decision ever does get taken to dump de Gea, it's surely only going to be done when it's deemed Henderson is ready to take over. So I really don't see United selling Henderson.
Send Henderson out on loan again and keep de Gea as Number 1
In my view, this is the option Solskjaer is most likely to take.
When all is said and done, de Gea is still the guy who's been there, done it, and got the t-shirt.
That said, he can only get away with so many costly errors.
I believe another season as Number 1 will do Henderson a world of good. He is growing in stature, and the best way to continue that growth is to keep on playing.
Whether that be at Sheffield United or not, remains to be seen. It could be the case, that a loan spell at a bigger club could be the next step for Henderson.
A football club with more expectations, where there will be more pressure.
Can Henderson handle the pressure of being No.1 at Old Trafford?
One of the biggest issues with playing at a club like Manchester United is the can a young player handle the pressure?
All there goalkeepers and indeed outfield players have ability, but it takes more than just raw talent to make it at a club like United.
Yes, Henderson looks to have the ability to succeed, but does he have the temperament and mentality? Only time will tell.
A season out on loan at a bigger club with different pressures could be the ideal scenario to see if Henderson is up to the task.
And if de Gea is still trotting out his best David James' impersonations at the end of next season, then maybe that will be the right time for change.