What Now for David de Gea? Spaniard Announces Manchester United Departure

In a somewhat surprising announcement on Sunday, Spanish international goalkeeper David de Gea, announced that he would not be signing his new contract at Manchester United.

That means that the Spaniard is now a free agent after his deal ran out on the 30th June.

The goalkeeper was formerly the highest paid player at United. Reportedly earning £375,000 a week after signing his previous contract back in July 2019.

Only Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City is believed to earn more in the Premier League at present.

However, for those in the know, this decision by de Gea is not a surprise as there have been some Machiavellian goings on behind the scenes at Old Trafford.

To explore what happened, let’s go back to when de Gea signed his last deal; a deal which made him the highest paid player in the Premier League at that time.

2011 – De Gea signs on in British-record deal for goalkeeper

After two very impressive seasons for Atletico Madrid, Manchester United signed David de Gea for a then British record fee for a goalkeeper of £18.9 million.

The youngster, quickly established himself as the new number one at United and despite having somewhat fluctuating form early on in his career at Old Trafford, he had established himself first choice by the end of the campaign.

In the years that followed de Gea proved himself to be one of the world’s best goalkeepers and an outstanding shot stopper.

He was first choice for club and country, but a falling out with Louis van Gaal in the 2014-15 season saw him set for a £29m move to Real Madrid. However, due to the late submission of paperwork, the deal fell through.

A short time later, De Gea signed a new four-year deal with United with an option of another year.

In the years since, while he has continued to have outstanding games from time to time. But he has also made a number of high-profile mistakes, especially over the last two or three seasons.

Despite this, he was the Premier League Golden Glove winner last season. And as his contract end date approached, it was assumed United would offer him a new deal.

Contract Offer Signed – But Then Rescinded

Erik Ten Hag had earmarked the goalkeeping spot as one United needed to address this summer. Despite that, it appeared that the Dutchman had agreed to de Gea extending his spell at the club.

Indeed, United offered de Gea a new contract at the end of the season. On similar terms to what he was earning at present.

De Gea agreed to the terms, and it appeared that a deal had been agreed. De Gea would extend his spell at Old Trafford.

But in a remarkable turn of events, Manchester United then rescinded the contract offer. Instead, they offered him a different deal, on markedly reduced wages.

The Spaniard’s agent and team refused to comment on the new offer until this past weekend. That was when de Gea simply announced that he would not be re-signing with United.

Chiefly due to the issues with the reduced wages he was offered.

Unprecedented Turn of Events

To offer a player a contract, only to rescind the offer a short time later is unprecedented in modern football.

While it is not illegal for United to do this, it is certainly clear evidence that something changed. Specifically in the time between offering de Gea the original contract. And then withdrawing that offer for a lower-value deal.

What inspired that change of heart remains open to speculation. But there are suggestions that United manager Ten Hag had told the hierarchy at the club to sign a replacement.

It may well have been the case then that United were testing the water. Looking at a number of possible goalkeeping alternatives to de Gea. But doing so after offering him a contract.

And then when news of the availability of a potential replacement broke, United pulled the plug on the original deal.

Then they offered de Gea reduced terms. In all likelihood knowing that the Spaniard would turn down the offer.

Which would subsequently free up a significant chunk in wages to bring in his eventual replacement.

Who could de Gea’s replacement be?

Speculation has been rife this off-season that United will sign a goalkeeper.

They were linked with Brentford’s David Raya, Brighton’s Robert Sanchez as well as Diogo Costa of FC Porto.

There have also been justifiable supporters for Dean Henderson. He spent most of last season on loan at Nottingham Forest from Manchester United. He is rated as one of the best young English goalkeepers.

But latest reports suggest the promising young English keeper could be sold this summer.

However, it seems United have settled on Inter Milan’s former Ajax goalkeeper Andre Onana.

The problem for United is that Inter are refusing to budge on their €60m (£51m) valuation of the Cameroonian shot-stopper.


United’s interest will also be due to the fact Onana has retired from international football. That despite being just 27 years old.

This was due to a falling out with Cameroon manager Rigobert Song at the 2022 World Cup Finals.

That decision means Onana would not be unavailable when the African Cup of Nations is contested every two years. That includes from 13th January to 11th February 2024 in the coming season.

Onana is believed to have agreed on personal terms with the Old Trafford outfit. But United are still in discussions with Inter over the size of the fee and how it will be structured.

What now for de Gea?

Given that David de Gea is just 32 years of age, and still in his prime as a goalkeeper, there will not be any shortage of teams keen to add the Spaniard to their squad.

However, his lofty wage demands could preclude a number of those teams from making him their next signing.

All told, the Spaniard is United’s seventh highest appearance maker, with 545 appearances for the club and he has been an ever-present in the Premier League for them in four out of the last five years.

  • Latest odds on de Gea’s next move

Bet365 Sports are offering odds on where de Gea will play next with even money favourite being a move to any Saudi Arabian team.

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Former club Atletico Madrid are 3/1 to sign him, which to me seems unlikely as they already have Jan Oblak, while a move to the MLS is a 7/1 chance.

A more likely move could be to Inter Milan as if they do sell Onana and take de Gea on a free, that could be one of the best pieces of business of the transfer window.  Inter are 10/1 to land de Gea, the same as German aces Bayern Munich.

Seville duo Sevilla and Real Betis are next in the betting at 14/1 and 18/1 respectively and I do feel a move back to Spain may be de Gea’s preferred choice, albeit he would have to take a wage cut to facilitate the move.

Wherever he does go, despite his errors, he has earned Manchester United far more points than he has lost over the years and deserved a better exit from the club.

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