Jose Mourinho has issued his verdict on the battle to become Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper, backing Dean Henderson to become ‘phenomenal’.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a tough task ahead of him this summer, as he decides whether Henderson should claim the spot or whether David de Gea has a few more years at the highest level – with the added pressure that whoever he doesn’t select is likely to push for a transfer.
De Gea pushed himself back into the frame with his performances towards the end of the campaign, including his heroics in the Europa League semi-final in Rome, but failed to save any of the 11 penalties he faced against Villarreal in the final’s shootout.
Henderson, meanwhile, was given a run of games from March after De Gea returned to Spain for the birth of his first child. The 24-year-old initially impressed in De Gea’s absence but his level dropped towards the end of the campaign, affording the Spaniard a chance to prove himself once more.
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However, Mourinho believes Henderson is ready for the challenge as he revealed the impression that the stopper made on him during his time at Old Trafford.
“I think they are good goalkeepers. I don’t think they are phenomenal goalkeepers or, in Dean Henderson’s case, not yet phenomenal,” he told the Times.
“When I say not yet, I say he will be. I met him at [Manchester] United when he was a kid and I always remember him asking me to go on loan. He was saying when I come back, I come back to be the No 1.
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“He told me that when he was the fourth choice. He is a kid with an incredible self confidence and I think he is ready.”
Henderson is one of England’s back-up choices heading into the European Championship, with Everton’s Jordan Pickford firmly established as Gareth Southgate’s number one.
Henderson’s only international cap came in a second-half appearance against Ireland in November, having not featured in either of England’s warm-up matches ahead of the tournament this summer.