Will Dean Henderson be able to oust David De Gea to become the first choice goalkeeper?

Image source: Daily Mail

Dean Henderson has made no bones about it that since returning to Manchester United after his successful season-long loan spell at Sheffield United that he wants to be the number one goalkeeper and thus wants to oust current keeper David De Gea. Currently, we have the strongest goalkeeping department in the Premier League, as alongside De Gea and Henderson are both Sergio Romero and Lee Grant.


With abundance of talent in this area, something will have to give. It seems likely that Henderson will not be going out on loan again this season after signing a new five year contract only a couple weeks ago. This means that current number 2, Sergio Romero is likely to leave with plenty of clubs interested in him, including Aston Villa, Leeds and even Chelsea.


As reported by the Daily Mirror, Henderson’s representative David Lee had said he will "will do whatever it takes" to ensure he gets minutes in the varying competitions. With Henderson ready to fight for the United shirt, it is comments he made to the Daily Mail that lean towards history when speaking about De Gea as he said, “He has obviously been a great goalkeeper for many years. He's been phenomenal and that's something I aspire to be, to have a career like his at the club, so I'll be going back in first day of the pre-season working my socks off to get in that starting line-up because it's something I've always wanted”.


Rather than saying De Gea is a great goalkeeper, he uses the word ‘has’ and this may be no coincidence. Yes our current number one goalkeeper has been great for United over many years, his form has slightly dipped over the last 18 months or so giving cause for concern amongst the United faithful. With Henderson hot on his heels, it may give De Gea the fresh impetus to rediscover his best form that had fans and pundits calling him the best in the world.


Henderson played every game of Premier League 2019/20 campaign on loan at Sheffield United bar the games against his parent club. In the 36 league games he played, he kept 13 clean sheets. De Gea managed the same number albeit in two games more.


Whilst a goalkeeper's most-revered attribute will be their shot stopping, it is also their reliability between the goal posts. A confident keeper means a calm defence as well. When Henderson made a mistake, which he did in the game against Liverpool last season whilst playing for Sheffield United, he sought to make improvements in his concentration. This resulted in him conceding just two goals and keeping three clean sheets in the next five games. The mistake he made against Liverpool was the only one he made all the season that led to a goal. 


He has proven his reliability early on his career as he earned the teams he played for out on loan valuable points. Last season for Sheffield United, his saved percentage was 76.85% making him the 4th best goalkeeper in the league with De Gea in 8th place with 72.07%. Henderson’s ability to make his body as big as possible whilst attempted to make a save has resulted in the higher save percentage.


Henderson’s rise into the top flight has raised more than a few eyebrows with the performances he has put in. If he carries with his form into the new season when given the chance between the sticks, there will come a point where he will oust De Gea as the number one. Last season Henderson outranked De Gea in every goalkeeping metre.


But we must urge caution with Henderson’s rapid rise as former United player Gary Neville said of changing goalkeepers, “What I don’t buy into is the idea that Dean Henderson can just go in that goalmouth area at the Stretford End and adapt to the demands of being a Man Utd goalkeeper. It takes a special character… There’s no escape at this club and that’s why I’d just be a little bit cautious over Dean Henderson. With respect to Sheffield United, it’s very different making a mistake for Manchester United”.


It has been said that Henderson does not lack confidence which can verge on the side of arrogance. This is not a bad thing for a footballer as great players over the years who have had both the confidence and arrogance to know their own ability and what they can do on the pitch. Only time will tell if Henderson manages to achieve being the number one goalkeeper at Manchester United.

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