After an impressive season in his native Czech Republic, Manchester United’s Matej Kovar has been causing a stir among fans about what the club should do with him.
The recently turned 23 year old is coming off the back of an exceptional loan spell with Sparta Prague, where he was crowned the league’s goalkeeper of the season to go with the league title.
Making 32 appearances in all competitions for Sparta Prague, Kovar kept 11 clean sheets and conceded just 34 times.
Due to his performances, it was reported last month that United were considering bringing him into the first-team squad ahead of next season.
With the departure of Jack Butland after the expiry of his loan and David de Gea’s future still unresolved there could be a shortage of keepers at United.
But does that necessarily make it the best position for Kovar?
With the news swirling of interest in Andre Onana, a new number one is almost certain to be bought this summer.
Kovar would then be battling it out with Tom Heaton for the number two spot, but this isn’t the best utilisation of such a talented young player.
United’s backup keepers made only a combined four appearances last season, a number far too low for a young and developing keeper who has taken significant strides in the past year.
Standing at a towering 6’5″, Kovar is good at dealing with high balls, but more impressively is his proactivity with the ball at his feet and sweeping up balls in behind.
Any United youth followers will also know of his shot-stopping prowess, which drew comparisons to a prime De Gea during the Czech keeper’s time in the club’s u23s.
But despite possessing all of these qualities, at such a tender age, confidence plays just as significant a role in a player’s performance as talent.
A shaky loan spell in 2020 with then-struggling Swindon Town saw Kovar pummelled in goal and abused by fans, resulting in him returning to United a shell of himself, and it took months in the u23s for him to regain his form.
As such, United must take advantage of the favourable environment cultivated for Kovar in Prague. Picking up the league title and becoming beloved by the local support and media has done wonders for the youngster’s confidence and, in turn, his performances.
Therefore, it is best for Kovar to continue his progress on loan with regular playing time rather than on United’s bench, and Kovar agrees, having said he wishes to remain with Sparta on loan.
This will see Kovar return next year as a fully developed keeper with over 100 matches under his belt and ready to compete as a cup keeper or garner a more significant transfer fee.