It was a feeling of deja vu for David de Gea, when back in September, when he was joined by the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric on a glossy stage to collect the silver, ball-shaped trophy following his inclusion in FIFA’s team of the season.

He’d been there so many times before; walking up to an ovation, thanking the crowd, explaining that the team came first, before returning to his seat to study the latest addition to his collection of metals in recognition of the save, goalkeeper, or, more commonly, player of the season.

No Manchester United player in history has more replicas of the Sir Matt Busby award on their mantlepiece than de Gea but the goalkeeper undoubtedly exchange them for more trophy-winning medals that his remarkable talents have by now.

During his time at Old Trafford the Spaniard has won a Premier League title, the FA Cup , the League Cup and the Europa League but, comprehensive though that haul is, an assortment of Champions League medals would be more befitting of the gifts possessed by the most complete goalkeeper on the planet report the MEN .

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea celebrates after the final whistle during the Emirates FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley
Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea celebrates after the final whistle during the Emirates FA Cup semi-final match at Wembley

“Yeah,” de Gea said, when asked how it felt to have been recognised by his peers last month, ”but the ones that we want to win are the team ones. I think the individual ones are good, but the really special ones are ones you win with your team, with all of them, with Manchester United. This is the most important to win.”

De Gea turns 28 in November and faces the very real possibility that Manchester United, his club of eight seasons, will not be the platform to provide him with those ‘really special ones’ in the near future.

If word that he is reluctant to sign a new deal at Old Trafford is to be believed, then it is hard to imagine that many United supporters would begrudge the club’s sole exhibitor of consistent excellence over the past five years if he were to move on, for free, when his current deal expires at the end of next season

Quite where that would leave Jose Mourinho ’s side is the sort of thought that might induce sleepless nights at Old Trafford, yet one palliative consideration comes with the knowledge that the clubs with genuine Champions League ambitions have, without exception, piled considerable resources into their goalkeeping departments to leave de Gea with few veritable alternatives to United.

For now, at least.

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