Manchester United have been blessed down the years with world class goalkeepers, from Alex Stepney, Edwin Van Der Sar, Peter Schmeichel to the current number one David de Gea who has been at the club now since 2011.
However, times move on as does football and David de Gea’s position as United number one under new manager Erik ten Hag has been under scrutiny. Ten Hag wants United to play a more progressive brand of football wherein the attacks begin from the goalkeeper, meaning distribution is critical, something which the Spaniard has consistently struggled with.
With De Gea’s contract also expiring at the end of the season (although a one year extension can be triggered) it may be time for United and Ten Hag to look for the next incumbent to the thankless task of being United’s next number one.
No doubt one name which is high, if not top of the list, is FC Porto’s young star Diogo Costa, scouted by the club in recent weeks.
Costa is 23 years old and stands at 6ft 4in tall. Despite his young age for a goalkeeper, who generally tend to hit their peak late 20’s or early 30’s, he has a heap of experience both for Porto’s first team (45 apps) and now for his national team Portugal (7 apps). A first choice for club and country at such a young age is an impressive feat, certainly for a ‘keeper.
With modern keepers now expected to be as good outfield as they are at traditional shot stopping, Costa is no slouch in this department. He is in the top percentiles for passes attempted and for passes completed excluding goal kicks (stats courtesy of FBref.com), highlighting his ability to pick out a teammate, recycle the ball and build attacks.
Also interestingly, he is again in the top percentiles across Europe for defensive actions outside the penalty box and for the average distance away from goal these actions are. This shows that he is comfortable in playing the modern ‘sweeper keeper’ role which is so integral for a team to play on the front foot in modern football, as the back line needs to remain high but be safe in the knowledge the keeper will be there to sweep up any long balls over the top or through the gaps. In addition, he is equally comfortable at collecting crosses, again placing relatively high up in the list for these stats, showing a good range of decision making.
In comparison, David de Gea is in the lowest percentile for all of these statistics, which highlights the stark differences between their styles of play. Where De Gea does excel is in shot stopping, and this is one statistic that the young Portuguese trails in. However, the Porto player is building a reputation for stunning reflex saves, although he still has some way to go before surpassing De Gea in this metric.
Stats are all well and good but mean little when not put into context of tangible achievements however.
As mentioned previously, Costa is first choice for Portuguese powerhouse FC Porto and is now first choice international keeper for Portugal. To have this on record alone at his age would be impressive, however he was an integral part to Porto winning the league and cup double last season, being voted the league’s best goalkeeper in the process.
He has also had international success with Portugals under 17’s and under 19’s, both times winning the European Championship. Having usurped Rio Patricio as the national keeper, Costa has put in a string of excellent performances and cemented his place in the national set up.
With achievements already to back up the stats, it’s clear to see that this young player has sublime talent and being blooded through the Porto ranks will definitely instill a winning mentality. Reports have also highlighted a potential £60million release clause in his contract, meaning this could be a very inviting option for United and one they look to be actively pursuing.
- Get all the match build-up, articles, news, puzzles, nostalgia and humour
- Online football content like you’ve never seen before
- No ads, no clickbait, no fake news – just 100% pure United
- Instantly delivered to your device with easy and secure online ordering
- Click Preview to see more or buy for just £1.25/$1.50
- Limited time offer: SAVE £10 on a season pass – use discount code SEASON35 at checkout.