After Real Madrid’s long-winded but ultimately unsuccessful pursuit of David De Gea this summer, it seemed that Louis Van Gaal had managed to keep his man – and even more so when the Spaniard penned a new five-year contract in September. But tongues are still wagging, and despite the shot-stopper publicly praising his manager for his tactical shrewdness and unexpected sense of humour there are many who feel that the contract extension was merely a game played by both parties to assure a mutually-acceptable deal next summer.
With his previous contract due to expire this July, De Gea would have been available to leave for free upon that date, even signing a pre-contract with the La Liga club in January. But now that his future is seemingly set to remain at Old Trafford, a hefty price tag is once more on the cards if Real Madrid renew their efforts to lure him to his homeland.
In the meanwhile of course, De Gea managed to earn himself a tasty pay-rise – something else that he will be able to further exploit should an eventual move to Spain materialise – and if a verbal agreement was reached between player and manager, then this could still happen as soon as the 2015-16 season reaches its conclusion.
De Gea’s value has certainly not diminished in the months since Rafa Benitez finally gave up on securing his signature, and following his reinstatement to the United line-up in September, Manchester United’s defensive performances have been the best in the Premier League. Van Gaal’s side have only conceded only eight goals in twelve matches and the Spaniard has been instrumental in making up for some well-publicised attacking failings.
Fans of English football have become accustomed to seeing one aspect of United’s score-lines in particular: a clean sheet for Van Gaal’s team. The Stretford End may not particularly enjoy watching the style of play adopted by the Dutchman, but it’s hard to argue with its effectiveness – and you can take advantage of this run of form by backing them to keep it up when the action resumes following the international break.
Their first game back in action will be away to Watford, and Betway currently offer United at 11/10 to keep another clean sheet – but given their shyness in front of goal, a better option might be backing a goalless draw at 15/2. Despite only scoring seventeen goals over the course of those opening dozen games, Manchester United somehow sit an impressive fourth in the table. Having amassed 24 points, they occupy the final Champions League qualifying spot and De Gea has kept clean sheets in over half the games in which he has played.
Fans of the Red Devils will be delighted that they managed to hang onto their No. 1 – they would most likely be sitting in mid-table had they been forced to rely on a less brilliant keeper – and Van Gaal would most likely be out of a job. But for now at least, they seem to be getting away with their jitters in front of goal – but should the Bernabeu come calling again next summer, they will need to recoup as much money as possible to adequately replace him, especially if Rooney, Martial and Depay continue to fluff their lines in front of goal between then and now.