Should I stay or should I go?
Arguably the most perpetual, drawn out saga of the transfer window was that of Real Madrid target and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Seen by Madrid as the heir apparent to Iker Casillas’ throne, the Spanish giants made their interest in the young keeper known to the footballing world some time ago, yet ironically time is what caused the deal to derail.
Despite de Gea looking destined to return to the Spanish capital, Madrid’s failure to submit the required paperwork within the Spanish window’s time restraints was the unhinging factor in what would have been the record transfer deal for a player with a year remaining on his contract.
De Gea began his career with the city rivals of the Galacticos, Atletico Madrid. Signed to their academy as a 13-year-old when his then coach deceived Atletico officials by declaring that de Gea was to sign for Rayo Vallecano, prompting Atletico to act swiftly to sign the youngster.
De Gea signed his first professional contract at the age of 17, and spent some time with Atletico Madrid B in the Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football. He made his first-team debut at the age of 18, with first choice keeper Sergio Asenjo away on international duty, as a substitute for injured second choice keeper Roberto in a Champions League tie against Porto. With Roberto injured, de Gea subsequently made his first league appearance three days later, starting at home against Real Zaragoza, giving away a penalty that he saved.
After faltering performances from Asenjo, and a managerial change with current Watford head coach Quique Sanchez Flores coming in, de Gea finished the 2009-10 season as first choice. He kept his position until his move to Manchester United in 2011 for £17.8 million, where he left to replace retiring Red Devil, Edwin van der Sar. With Atletico, de Gea won the 2010 Europa League and the 2010 UEFA Super Cup.
De Gea’s early United career was marred with criticisms, most notably his physicality being drawn into question. After a particularly poor performance against Blackburn Rovers on December 31st 2011, he was dropped for the following match with second-choice Anders Lindegaard preferred in goal.
Despite enduring a difficult first campaign in England, de Gea grew in confidence and began to perform. In the following season, he made the PFA Premier League Team of the Year and won the Premier League title. The following two terms, Manchester United began to vastly falter with Sir Alex Ferguson ending his successful career as manager, yet de Gea remained as one of the only constant figures in the side, saving the team with crucial stops on many occasions. During this difficult period for the club, their goalkeeper escalated his reputation as one of the world’s best.
Internationally, de Gea enjoyed a great deal of success with Spain’s youth sides, winning the U-17 European Championship in 2007, the U-21 European Championship in 2011 and 2013. The player had to wait to make his senior debut against El Salvador in 2014 in a pre-World Cup warm up game, coming on as a late substitute. At the World Cup however, he was the only member of the squad to not play a single minute. But, since the side’s failure in Brazil, he has earned a handful of caps, and now looks to have succeeded Iker Casillas as the number one.