It’s rare in football that a problem is solved simply and easily.
So Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer might have been talking sense, after all, when he refuted the idea that there’d been a complete changing of the guard in the club’s goalkeeping department.
Solskjaer’s insistence that David de Gea will still play football for United was undoubtedly true. In fact, it’s likely that fans will see the Spaniard back between the United posts as soon as this Thursday for the Europa League first leg against Granada.
But Solskjaer cannot play the diplomat forever and it was Rio Ferdinand who pointedly assessed the situation United will now surely face in the summer regarding their goalkeepers.
Whether or not you agree with Solskjaer’s decision to promote Dean Henderson to first-choice goalkeeper ahead of De Gea, you cannot argue with the fact a transfer situation is about to rear its head this summer.
Ferdinand rightly asserted that De Gea, who’s been among the world’s best goalkeepers for a decade — and who has already created a distinguished United legacy — won’t be happy playing second fiddle.
It’s not unrealistic, as Ferdinand said, to suggest the Spain international will want to move in the summer transfer window. He’s been close to the exit door before.
Ferdinand said: “You’ve got two options: you fight for your position or you say, ‘that’s me, I’m off to somewhere where I’m seen as a number one’.
“If Dean Henderson finishes this season as the number one then David de Gea will be doing all he can to get out of this football club, I’m sure.
“He loves it at Man United, he lives and breathes this football club, he has done since he’s been here. But I don’t see him staying here and saying, ‘right, Dean Henderson has the shirt, I’m going to sit and wait’. No chance, I don’t see it, he’s going to want to go.
“David de Gea isn’t that guy, he’s not that person he’s been a mainstay in this team and maybe Ole sees it a little bit different now, he’s seen someone who can compete for the number one shirt and has now put him in the front of the queue.
“Does De Gea accept that and stay? I don’t believe so.”
Ferdinand is right, of course, but selling De Gea will not be a simple and easy process.
For starters, De Gea is the top earner in the United squad and his wage demands will surely be far beyond what many suitors are willing to pay.
There was a time when De Gea would have been a dream acquisition in goal for nearly every club in Europe, but it’s unlikely that Real Madrid or Barcelona would be interested, given their current keeping options and lack of available funds.
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United would be loath to sell to another club in the Premier League club (not that Man City City or Liverpool would be interested), leaving De Gea with a limited number of clubs around Europe that fit the bill.
Perhaps Juventus would be top of the list of suitable clubs for the 30-year-old. De Gea isn’t quite the truly elite keeper he was between 2015 and 2018, but he would still be an upgrade on Woijech Szczęsny. Paris Saint-Germain have Keylor Navas now but De Gea would improve upon him, and the French giants would be able to afford his wages.
There are lots of ifs and buts, one of them being if Henderson shapes up sufficiently to nail down the No.1 jersey.
Even if he does, it still won’t be straightforward for United to sell or satisfy De Gea. If Solskjaer listens to Ferdinand and seeks to bow to De Gea’s wishes, the market may not allow it to happen.
This could be the summer saga few have anticipated dominating the agenda at United, even if Solskjaer — for now — puts his fingers in his ears and claims he can placate two number ones.