While Andre Onana has clearly emerged as Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper following the departure of David de Gea, the question remains of what to do about backup option Dean Henderson.
Man United has a packed schedule given the team’s inclusion in the Champions League, thus making it possible for Henderson to appear in the odd match this season.
It’s reasonable to believe that Onana would most likely be relied upon in the league as well as in Europe, meaning that domestic cup games could prove to be an opportunity for a backup goalkeeper to get some exposure.
Still, is Henderson the right backup keeper to stand between the sticks for United during this season’s League Cup and FA Cup ties?
As Nottingham Forest’s first-choice keeper during his loan deal last season, there’s no question that Henderson has amassed a wealth of experience that has prepared him to up against top-tier opposition in cup games.
Still, Erik ten Hag as well as the club may have reservations when it comes to providing the 26-year-old with playing opportunities given his disciplinary record.
Henderson has been outspoken when it comes to his criticism of United, particularly during his loan spell.
Upon joining Forest on loan last season, the English goalkeeper criticized his parent club for keeping him on the bench in favour of playing De Gea, going so far as to say, “To sit there for 12 months, it is criminal really, at my age.”
In addition to being disrespectful toward United if not arrogant, Henderson’s comments also showed a lack of perspective, given that De Gea had been the club’s first-choice goalkeeper for the better part of the decade, even winning the Premier League title with the Red Devils in 2013.
In the same breath, fellow backup Tom Heaton, who has been uncontroversial, has gained favour with the club, with Ten Hag asking him to remain at Old Trafford this season should there be any incoming bids for the player.
Beyond the idea of not allowing bad behaviour to be rewarded, United would also do well to sell Henderson as soon as possible in order to raise the funds necessary to pursue transfer targets such as midfielder Sofyan Amrabat, who the club is still intent on signing ahead of the transfer deadline.
Fiorentina is reportedly looking for €30 million for the player, and Henderson’s sale could go a long way in funding the purchase of the Moroccan star especially if Forest are willing to pay the €20 million that United are looking for.
Also important to note is that Henderson is believed to favour a move to Forest as opposed to another season at Old Trafford, and a club of United’s stature should not hold onto a player who doesn’t want to play for the badge.
Even if Henderson is a capable backup option who could cover for Onana during cup games, it makes more sense for United to find a way to offload the player in order to bring in signings such as Amrabat – a much higher priority.