De Gea has enjoyed his best season so far in a Man United shirt, cementing his widely recognised status as the best goalkeeper in the world.
He was included in the PFA Premier League ‘Team of the Year’ and claimed the ‘Golden Glove’ award last week, claiming 18 clean sheets.
And Herrera, speaking in an interview this week, compared his teammate’s talent with the extraterrestrial genius of Messi.
“For me, David is the best by far,” he said. “I think he has something that comes from God. God chose him in the goal and God chose Messi on the pitch.”
“You cannot train what he did against Liverpool [at Anfield]. You cannot train what he did against Kun Aguero when he was two metres in front of him and he put the hand out, you cannot train it.
“You can train when he receives the ball from the left defender and he passes the ball to Antonio Valencia perfect. You can see when he receives the ball he knows always what to do. He has some special abilities that I think he hasn’t trained them, because you cannot train them, you just have them.”
Herein lies what truly separates Messi from the rest – including Cristiano Ronaldo. Most footballers reach the heights through sheer graft and struggle, working every day to improve incrementally.
Messi’s brilliance, on the other hand, comes from somewhere else. Where exactly I am not sure. While nobody has it in them to train their way to physical and technical perfection like Ronaldo, you literally cannot train to be like Messi.
You cannot put your finger on it, but when you see him play it – whatever ‘it’ is – becomes strikingly apparent, and leaves you feeling… touched, privileged, whole, enraptured by something special, something different.
And such is indeed the case with De Gea. It is not necessarily his record – what you see on paper – which prompts so many people into labelling him the best in the world; it is, rather, more about his capacity to thrill between the sticks, to go beyond the common traits of shot-stopping and somehow produce something only De Gea could think of doing.