David de Gea’s Manchester United future needs to be a top priority for José Mourinho this summer

  • David de Gea has emulated the same form and presence at Manchester United as club legend Peter Schmeichel
  • If José Mourinho wants to mount a Premier League title challenge next season, de Gea will be more important for the Red Devils than ever before

David de Gea’s future at Manchester United has once again been cast in uncertainty with the opening of the 2017 summer transfer window. The Spanish shot-stopper has played an instrumental role in the United starting XI since his arrival from Atlético Madrid in 2011, establishing himself as one of the best ‘keepers in both the Premier League and the world. But United manager José Mourinho will face a difficult task in keeping de Gea at the club for another season, with Real Madrid reigniting their interest in the Spanish international.

Mourinho entered the window early with the intention to continue his overhaul of the United squad, capturing the service of Victor Lindelöf from Benfica for a fee of £30.7m. While the defensive reinforcement will boost United’s prospects to challenge for the Premier League crown next season, it would undoubtedly be a monumental setback for Mourinho if de Gea were to leave this summer.

The recipient of United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for three consecutive seasons, de Gea’s presence in front of the Red Devils’ net saved his side from dropping more points than they did in their draw-filled 2016-17 campaign. His long-term prospects, coupled with the progress he has made since his move to the Premier League, has made him a priceless asset for United.

It was a sigh of relief for United fans when de Gea’s move to Madrid collapsed in the 11th hour of the 2015 window, with a broken fax machine assisting former boss Louis van Gaal with the best piece of business in the summer. De Gea, who signed a four-year contract after the move fell through, must remain a part of Mourinho’s long-term vision, especially for a manager known for his defensive-minded tactics.

Sergio Romero has proven himself to be a worthy adversary for United’s No. 1 slot next season after a fine display in the club’s trophy-winning Europa League campaign, in which he kept eight clean sheets from 12 matches. Romero has played second fiddle to de Gea for some time and has expressed his interest in taking over from the Spaniard if he were to leave this summer. De Gea’s departure would allow for 20-year-old Joel Pereira to become United’s back-up ‘keeper, though it would be a risky – and potentially costly – mistake if United failed to keep consistency in front of the net as the Spaniard has maintained for some time.

De Gea has the most United caps in the team’s defensive line and is building himself to be a formidable leader in that position, reinforcing the need to have him at the club as Mourinho attempts to solidify a new defensive partnership. The prospect of competing in next season’s Champions League means de Gea’s United future isn’t as bleak as it could have been. Mourinho, though, needs to consider if de Gea should take the captain’s armband for the start of the next season, giving the Spaniard another incentive to prolong his career at United.

United and Madrid will be at a heated stand-off over any transfer deals if de Gea doesn’t move to Los Blancos this summer, but the Red Devils can’t lose a player holding the same world-class calibre as Cristiano Ronaldo again. A.C. Milan’s exciting prospect Gianluigi Donnarumma has been linked with a move to United, though the 18-year-old Italian is far from reaching the potential of de Gea. It would be a step back for United, too, especially as they would undo years’ worth of work by recruiting Donnarumma and having to build him into a world-class ‘keeper like de Gea.

Mourinho is in for a long, difficult transfer window if he maintains a position to keep de Gea at United for another season. But for a manager that had one of the most fruitful starts to his United career, losing de Gea could be a big step back for Mourinho and ultimately cost him a viable title challenge next season.