David de Gea’s future at Manchester United is in doubt amid growing tension with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
A dressing room source has told the Manchester Evening News the relationship between De Gea and Solskjaer was becoming a ‘problem’ before Dean Henderson was selected over De Gea for the Premier League win over Brighton on Sunday.
And the MEN can reveal Solskjaer intended to drop De Gea for Henderson as early as the visit of West Brom on November 21. When De Gea was informed of the intended selection by Solskjaer, he reacted so unhappily Solskjaer restored the Spaniard to the side.
Henderson was also poised to start in the goalless draw with Chelsea on February 28 but De Gea expressed his dismay and Solskjaer once again decided to start him over Henderson. De Gea kept a clean sheet against West Brom and Chelsea, where United fans voted him the club’s man of the match.
De Gea, 30, then missed the next four games to be present for the birth of his daughter, Yanay, in Madrid, a paternity leave request that was approved by Solskjaer. De Gea has not played since the Chelsea draw and Henderson is now widely recognised as United’s new number one.
A sizeable section of the United dressing room felt Henderson should have replaced De Gea in early December but Solskjaer stood by the club’s four-time player of the year and De Gea has tallied nine clean sheets in 24 league games this term.
Although Solskjaer attempted to downplay his decision to retain Henderson against Brighton by insisting he has ‘two number ones’, there is a growing feeling at United the club will have to sell one of their main goalkeepers in the summer.
“With Dean and David’s situation, I know it’s something that will create headlines and [is] fish and chip wrapping paper in a little while,” Solskjaer said after United beat Brighton. “But I’ve got two great goalkeepers and it’s about now finding games both will play [in].
“Obviously not the same game, of course. But both of them deserve to play more than what they do and it’s a decision I have to make every time.”
De Gea is United’s highest earner on £375,000-a-week while Henderson signed a new five-year contract in August and is on £125,000 weekly wages.
Henderson is reluctantly prepared to seek a transfer in the summer if he is second fiddle to De Gea next season. The United academy graduate joined the club aged 14 in 2011 and is confident of fully establishing himself as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.
De Gea’s former teammate Rio Ferdinand claimed on Sunday the Spain international ‘will be doing all he can to get out of this football club’ if he is second-choice ‘keeper. Multiple sources say De Gea and Henderson’s working relationship is entirely amicable.
The United goalkeeping coach Richard Hartis has been particularly sensitive about the competition between De Gea and Henderson, and complained to staff he would have to explain to De Gea why Henderson had returned for pre-season training before him, a story first reported by the MEN.
De Gea is approaching his 10th anniversary at United and is contracted to the club until 2023, with the option of an additional year, and few of the elite European clubs are in the market for an outstanding goalkeeper this summer.
United are haemorrhaging well in excess of £600,000 a week on goalkeepers’ wages and are expected to release Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira in the summer.
Lee Grant, 37, is unlikely to receive another playing contract but could stay on as a goalkeeping coach. Nathan Bishop, 21, arrived from Southend United in January of last year but is the fourth-choice goalkeeper and has made the bench three times – when United listed two goalkeepers among their substitutes.