David De Gea has today undergone a medical at Old Trafford ahead of what is to be United’s third official signing of the summer. The 20-year old Spanish shot stopper is touted as one of the best goalkeeping prospects in the world as of now and United may well have landed the new Buffon in David. Having broke into the Atletico Madrid first team at the tender age of 19, he has been growing ever since. An impressive start to the 2010/11 campaign, with a penalty save against Diego Milito in the UEFA Super Cup final, brought him into the limelight and SAF believes David De Gea could be the potential replacement for the indomitable Edwin Van Der Sar. For me, De Gea was always my first choice replacement for Van Der Sar and if you had managed to watch any of him this season, it is not hard to see why.
At just 20 years of age, David De Gea seems to be a professional way beyond his years. If there was an aspect of Van Der Sar’s game that seemed like it would become a distant memory, it was his calm in holding possession and beginning moves from the back with an unequivocal elegance that came with his years of experience. However, at the U21 Championships, you could probably count the amount of times that De Gea kicked the ball long up the pitch on one hand, such was his belief in his back line. At Manchester United he will have a combination of Vidic/Ferdinand/Smalling/Jones in front of him, 4 defenders who we know can knock a pass between them. Last season in the Premier League alone, the United trio of Vidic/Smalling/Ferdinand had a total of over 3200 passes, an indication of just how United enjoy starting a move from the back.
United have always had a bit of trouble when replacing legendary goalkeepers, look no further than who we have had between Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar, a list no shorter than 11 names including such monumental cock-ups as Massimo Taibi and Ricardo. I think De Gea may finally break the pattern, such is my confidence in this young goalkeepers ability. He just seems to ooze confidence for a man that is only 20 years of age and when you consider the fact that Edwin Van Der Sar decided to hang up his gloves at the tender age of 40, then you realise just what De Gea could bring to Old Trafford. In the last La Liga season, he won 80% of his aerial battles on the way to winning 2 man of the match awards and also had the most appearances in the league for his team with 38, no statistics to be sniffed at when you realise it was his first full season as the number 1 of his boyhood club.
I also don’t have any fears that he will be scared of walking out at Old Trafford as United’s number one because he has already got himself used to the big stage. Having played in a UEFA Cup final and UEFA Super Cup and coming away victorious from both, as well as playing the world’s best in Barcelona and strong challengers Real Madrid, he has already clocked up some impressive experience under his belt. The victory at the U21 Championship competition in Denmark also brought him into the limelight and he succeeded with impressive ease, albeit because he stood behind the best team in the tournament but playing for the best team is something he will have to get used to when he plays for United.
Gianluigi Buffon began his career at 17, Iker Casillas began his at 19 and David De Gea began his at 19. Comparisons will be made and they will be welcomed because he really looks like the real deal. De Gea looks to be part of a new revolution of youth that is being brought into United as we look to replace the warhorses that have retired. Over the past 2 summers we have bought Chris Smalling (then 20), Javier Hernandez (then 22), Phil Jones (19), Ashley Young (25) and now David De Gea (20) joins that list as we see an influx of youth complimenting the experienced spine that still exists. For me, SAF is doing exactly the right thing if we are to challenge Barcelona. We will never see a Manc-Galactico squad built entirely from established stars because we enjoy nurturing our youth and creating stars from rough diamonds, that is the United way that has existed ever since the glory days of Sir Matt Busby and his Babes and I would not have it any other way. We have already seen what a star Javier Hernandez is becoming, the progression of Chris Smalling has been phenomenal and the potential that lies in Jones and De Gea is endless.
It is exciting times to be a United fan and the signing of David De Gea will end the speculation as to who will replace Van Der Sar at just the right time. The up and coming pre-season tour of America will let us see De Gea in a United shirt for the first time and a good pre-seaosn would have to be classed as essential for a new goalkeeper more so than any other position. He will hopefully use those matches to establish a relationship with the back line that he will be able to take into the up and coming campaign, with the showcase fixture against Barcelona at the end of the tour being his first taste of top class opposition playing for United. All in all, we should all be thrilled that we managed to land the best goalkeeping prospect in Europe to replace Van Der Sar. If there was anyone who had the ability to replace his legacy with his own then it is David De Gea. Welcome to United young Padawan.