There is little doubt that David de Gea’s legacy at Manchester United is secure; across 12 years of service, the goalkeeper has developed from a meek youngster into one of the finest shot-stoppers around.

However, with grumblings about his footballing ability growing increasingly loud this season, De Gea’s disastrous performance in the Europa League quarter-final humbling by Sevilla thrust his deficiencies into the cold light of day; whatever he has achieved in the past, he is now costing them dearly in the biggest moments.

De Gea’s failure to keep out a tame Said Benrahma shot led to United’s latest defeat against West Ham, and they are now in danger of being caught by Liverpool in the race for a top four Premier League finish. Erik ten Hag has backed the 32-year-old, but he cannot afford to keep picking him based on his past repuation.

Despite being one of the world’s best when it come to making reaction saves from basically any range, the Spaniard and his club have been left behind as the modern game moves towards a model where a ball-playing goalkeeper is almost essential.

De Gea’s contract expires this summer, and while it is rumoured he could yet extend his stay, that may well provide the perfect opportunity to part ways. Here are the goalkeepers Man Utd should consider to replace him…

Diogo Costa

The man who is widely reported to be in line to replace De Gea at Old Trafford is Porto’s Diogo Costa, and it’s easy to see why they might target him.

Costa, who has emerged as Portugal’s No.1 goalkeeper, prides himself on his ball-playing ability and is adept at spraying long passes out from the back – both from his hands and the ground.

The 23-year-old is also at ease playing with either foot, meaning he is more comfortable than most under the pressure of an attacker’s press and won’t turn into trouble.

In terms of his goalkeeping ability, Costa is an adept shot-stopper who is an imposing figure in the penalty area, keeping clean sheets in more than half of the 35 games he has played so far in 2022-23.

He wouldn’t come cheap, though, with Porto said to value their goalkeeper at a whopping £66 million ($53m).

Mike Maignan

A difficult sell compared to most of the other names on this list, but if the opportunity arises to land a man who is swiftly emerging as one of the finest goalkeepers on the planet, Man Utd should jump at it.

Maignan has been exceptional in a Milan side that has failed to recapture the title-winning form of last season, and he was France’s natural successor to Hugo Lloris when he hung up his international gloves.

While he has defied physics with some incredible reaction saves, Maignan is also supremely comfortable in stepping out from his box and joining the build-up as a pseudo third centre-back.

Indeed, one of Milan’s secret weapons is his pinged diagonal pass to flying winger Rafael Leao, as the opposition midfield is taken out of the equation and Leao is immediately set one-on-one with his defender.

It would be a costly and complicated deal to pull off, with Maignan seemingly settled in Milan and heading for a Champions League semi-final. But of the world-class goalkeepers out there, he is arguably the most attainable and provides a perfect balance between shot-stopping and playing the sweeper keeper.

Man Utd have been linked in the past, and now could be the perfect time to strike with his value only increasing.

Giorgi Mamardashvili

Another of those touted to be a potential successor to De Gea is Valencia’s Giorgi Mamardashvili.

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise having initially been signed for the club’s B team in 2021, demonstrating all the attributes required to be a top goalkeeper with his agility, reactions, command of his penalty area and shot-stopping ability.

In terms of his distribution, Marmardashvili’s kicking is by no means perfect, but there is potential there that can be worked on in training.

While he’s also been linked with Chelsea, becoming Man Utd’s No.1 goalkeeper at this early stage in his career may be a bit too much of a leap, but he would come cheap from cash-strapped Valencia and the Red Devils have had success in the past when they have rolled the dice; De Gea was just 20 when he signed in 2011.

Jordan Pickford

It feels as though it is only a matter of time before Jordan Pickford jumps ship at Everton after two consecutive relegation dogfights.

Given the pressure potential Premier League-winner Aaron Ramsdale is putting him under, Pickford needs to be playing at a higher level and in Europe if he wants to keep his place as England’s No.1.

Although he is prone to a high-profile rush of blood to the head, Pickford has developed into an excellent all-round goalkeeper whose distribution is one of his main assets.

It could also be argued that he is far more assured in an England shirt, where is usually protected by a higher calibre of centre-back than he is used to at club level, and it is the mark of a top player when they still shine in a struggling team.

A man with vast Premier League experience who has played on the biggest stage with his country, capitalising on Everton’s woes could make good business and footballing sense for Man Utd in the summer.

Bart Verbruggen

At just 20 years old, Bart Verbruggen has enjoyed a breakout season for Anderlecht in Belgium.

He is the archetypal modern goalkeeper, demonstrating an aptitude for both long and short passing and using his athleticism to play a role in his side’s build-up.

While Anderlecht are known as serial league winners, they are currently marooned in lower mid-table in the Jupiler Pro League – but that hasn’t stopped Verbruggen from keeping 10 clean sheets in 23 first-team appearances this season.

His age could be seen as a deterrent, but his manager, Brian Riemer, believes he is showing ability well beyond his years: “Bart plays with the charisma of a goalkeeper who has already played more than 300 matches at the highest level,” he said recently.

The Dutchman has already been called up to the senior Netherlands squad and it’s likely he would benefit from working under his compatriot, Ten Hag.

If Verbruggen fulfils his potential, it could be an incredibly shrewd piece of business to bring him in now.

David Raya

Brentford stopper David Raya has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, establishing himself as one of the most complete keepers in the division in less than two seasons.

His ball-playing ability is second to very few, as noted by Jurgen Klopp earlier this season after a thrilling 3-3 draw between the Bees and Liverpool. “The goalkeeper could wear the No. 10 shirt,” he said. “He has sent several incredible balls, exactly what you should do when you play against us.”

High praise indeed, and while it is not necessarily reflected in his stats, Raya’s shot-stopping ability isn’t bad either. Whether he is a big enough name and has the required top-level experience to be a Man Utd No.1 is another question.

Brentford value him at £40m (£49.5m), but he could well be available for less this summer as he stalls on a new deal with his current contract expiring in 12 months’ time.

Dean Henderson

An outside shout, but Man Utd could save themselves a fair whack if they looked inwards for De Gea’s replacement in the summer.

Dean Henderson impressed at times in the first half of the 2022-23 season on loan at Nottingham Forest, although he was often left exposed by a leaky backline.

Since picking up an injury in January he has been harshly usurped by new signing Keylor Navas and seems destined to return to Old Trafford in the summer once again.

He still has six clean sheets in eighteen matches for a side battling relegation, and though he is rough around the edges, he possesses many of the attributes Ten Hag will be looking for in his next goalkeeper.

That includes his distribution both from his hands and with his feet, and his command of his penalty area.

United should consider finally giving Henderson his chance at the very least. He has the ability to succeed.

By Lylla

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