Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag believes David de Gea is a “great” goalkeeper and rejects the notion the Spain international cannot play with his feet.
Widespread reports in Spain last week claimed De Gea failed to make Luis Enrique’s 55-man World Cup shortlist and cannot therefore be selected for next month’s showpiece event in Qatar.
It would be a major snub for the 31-year-old, who has been voted United’s Players’ Player of the Year four times including last season , especially as three Premier League keepers – Robert Sanchez of Brighton, Brentford’s David Raya and Kepa Arrizabalaga, who has returned to form at Chelsea – are understood to have made it.
Enrique has said in the past he doesn’t feel De Gea’s passing out from the back is good enough.
However, after De Gea’s superb display in the 1-0 Premier League win against West Ham , when he made late saves to deny Michail Antonio, Kurt Zouma and Declan Rice to ensure victory, Ten Hag gave a passionate defence of his goalkeeper.
“Everyone has his own opinion but for me, the first thing for a goalkeeper is to protect the goal and make sure you don’t concede goals,” he said. “In that fact he is magnificent.
“But with the feet he has capabilities as well. That is not only with the keeper but also the one in front and what options you give to bring passes in.
“I am convinced he can do it. The games so far he proved it.”
De Gea became United’s highest-paid player when he signed a £375,000-a-week contract extension in 2019. He is still thought to be the world’s best-paid goalkeeper.
However, that deal is due to expire in the summer. And, while United do have an option to extend it by a further year, Ten Hag accepts there are decisions to be made during the World Cup.
“When we come to an end with this block, we have the World Cup and then we have to think about it,” he said.
“In the background we have our strategies for how to deal with it, but it is clear already and I have already emphasised it several times, I am really happy with David. He is a great goalkeeper.
“He is only 31. He is fit. He can progress even more. He was already impressive good for Manchester United and I think he will do that in the future as well.”