David de Gea

Having made a strong start to the season for Manchester United, David de Gea will, understandably, be disappointed to have missed out on a call-up to Spain’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

There have been some rocky moments for the 32-year-old during his time at Old Trafford, but he has, in general, been a consistent performer since arriving in 2011.

While De Gea wasn’t included in Luis Enrique’s final 26-man squad, previous reports suggested that he was even left out of Spain’s 55-man provisional group. Athletic Bilbao star Unai Simon and Brentford’s David Raya were both picked over the United shot-stopper, as well as Brighton ace Robert Sanchez.

Although his omission came as somewhat of a shock, it probably wasn’t surprising given that the Reds goalkeeper has not played for the Furia Roja since October 2020. On that day, he made a high-profile error that saw Ukraine claim a famous 1-0 victory.

De Gea has clearly fallen down the pecking order with the national side, but he still has a lot of admirers at club level. Former Reds shot-stopper Edwin van der Sar – viewed as one of the greatest goalkeepers in United’s history – recently delivered a glowing verdict on the former Atletico Madrid man. If De Gea is going to take note of anyone’s opinions, the Dutchman should certainly be high on the list.

“David has done fantastically. He succeeded me in 2011, it’s now 2022 – he’s played 11 years and five times player of the season,” Van der Sar told The Athletic. “Yes, he is a certain type of goalkeeper, and he is very good at certain points and a little bit less at other ones. Nobody is perfect.

“But he is still young. He has developed himself. It has also to do with outfield players, the way the coach want to play, the way they want to play the ball from defensive areas. On the goalkeeping side, I don’t think there are any complaints regarding David.”

If Van der Sar’s view on his performance levels means something to De Gea, Erik ten Hag’s will be even more important to the Spaniard – especially considering his rocky start to the season. The goalkeeper struggled in the defeat to Brentford at the start of the campaign, but has been much-improved in recent months, and has been praised by his manager for exactly that.

The United boss recently lauded the goalkeeper ahead of his 500th appearance for the Reds against Newcastle United in October. Ten Hag insisted that he ‘values’ the shot-stopper’s talent and personality and praised him for setting the standards for his teammates.

The Dutchman admitted that De Gea – who is out of contract at the end of the season – is one of the leaders in the dressing room.

”It is fantastic. If you perform in 500 games for a club like Manchester United, that tells a lot about you. The talent, the personality – so that achievement is huge and I really reward that, I value that, and I want to congratulate him [for] that,” Ten Hag said.

When asked if the 31-year-old was a big influence amongst his teammates, the Reds boss added: ”Yeah, sure. He has one of the highest standards. He is pushing everyone every time, and to himself he does what he can, he gives 100 per cent, but that is also what we expect from him – that is the demand.

“He is an experienced player, he is one of the leaders, so we have to show that to push the team, then you have to be the example by itself.”

De Gea has kept five clean sheets in the Premier League this season, conceding 20 goals in 14 outings. His omission from Spain’s World Cup squad was understandably frustrating and disappointing for the goalkeeper, but his backing from his club boss, as well as one of the greatest shot-stopper’s in the club’s history, can only help to motivate the 32-year-old for the remainder of the campaign.

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