Manchester United's Squad Review: Who stays or goes in goal?
Jose Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford amidst scepticism and fanfare. While certain critics and fans hoped he would bring the same success he enjoyed elsewhere, the other portion feared his notorious mind-games and off-the-pitch antics would ruin the club.
Two seasons on, the club has returned to Champions League football, seen their best league finish since Sir Alex Ferguson's time, and revived the habit of making it to finals and [sometimes] winning trophies. This weekend's failure confirmed there's still work to do.
The squad has ageing members, faltering young talent and looks some distance from challenging for the Premier League title. After a mixed season, this four-part series will look at who should stay or might go.
The first instalment is the easiest: the goalkeepers.
David De Gea
United’s Player of the Season and Premier League Golden Glove winner has evolved from a lanky young prospect to the best keeper since Peter Schmeichel. Some would argue the Spaniard’s shot-stopping skills are even better than the Great Dane’s. De Hero is arguably the best keeper in the world and has a lot to do with the Red Devils' impressive defensive record.
His heroic deeds this season are numerous. The Champions League wonder save against Luis Muriel’s header and denying Sergio Aguero in the Manchester Derby number among them. Mourinho has been painfully clear that the Spain no. 1 is not moving away from Old Trafford. Fans can rest assured, he’ll figure in the goal again.
The Argentinian has been De Gea's backup since 2015. Mourinho has been vocal about how much he values Romero, once saying he always has the best keeper in the world when Romero featured in the starting lineup with De Gea injured. The Argentina no. 1 is United's cup specialist, allowing both netminders to stay in form for their respective countries.
Still, there were rumours during the January transfer window that Romero wanted to move to another club in search of first-team action. Allegedly, the move insured his World Cup spot. However, the man with the impeccable van dyke remains the first choice for Jorge Sampaoli. Consequently, talk of an exit from United seems to have died down.
United’s second stand-in keeper has been out on loan a few times in the last three years. The Portugal U21 shot-stopper has only featured in friendlies and a League Cup substitution for the club. However, he seems interested in remaining with United. It would be interesting to see when lack of first-team opportunities forces him into a move.
Out on Loan
Two of United’s extremely talented shot-stoppers are currently out on loan. Sam Johnstone is enjoying the best period of his career. He has become Aston Villa’s no. 1 under Steve Bruce. The academy graduate kept 11 clean sheets in 26 appearances for the Lions. Aston Villa is enthusiastic about retaining his services. Considering United has no lack of goalkeeping options in the first team squad, the Red Devils might sever ties with Johnstone.
The other talented keeper is Dean Henderson. The England U21 international has been plying his trade for League One side Shrewsbury Town. He has kept 11 clean sheets in 24 appearances during a fantastic campaign with the Shrews. The 21-year-old will probably continue to seek first-team opportunities, too.
For now, though, Sam Johnstone seems to be the only goalkeeper headed for a permanent exit this season. While it would be sad to see the talented goalkeeper move away from Old Trafford, staying will stunt his development. There actually is a downside to having David de Gea between the posts.