Ex-Premier League keeper Foster thinks De Gea ‘problem’ could actually save Man Utd £80m

Joe Williams
Man Utd goalkeeper David de Gea exhales

Ben Foster thinks Man Utd could end up saving millions of pounds by offering David de Gea a new lucrative contract at the club.

The Red Devils have the seventh worst defensive record this season after conceding 15 goals in their opening eight matches, ahead of their clash with Newcastle on Sunday.

De Gea has never been outstanding at the sweeper-keeper role at Man Utd and that has again been demanded of him by new boss Erik ten Hag, who wants to see his goalkeeper help build attacks.

But Foster insists there have been some promising signs that De Gea is now adapting to the role, with the Spain international’s performance in a 2-1 victory over Everton particularly impressive.

“There’s a lot of factors going on that you’ve got to read into,” Foster told The Metro.

“In the last game for example against Everton I thought De Gea was brilliant, he was a real sweeper-keeper on the edge of his box. Manchester United were pressing up so Everton were trying to play balls in behind and he was really on his toes, on the edge of his box and getting onto those passes but then keeping it simple.

“He’s definitely improved because if you think back to the start of the season when he passed it straight out to Eriksen [against Brentford] who’s under pressure and they lose the ball and it’s a goal. They’ve got away from that now and they’ve found a style of play that suits him and the team.

“The team, especially against Everton, decided to play that way [high pressing].

“They wanted to play higher up the pitch to press Everton and to keep them boxed in so that would have been a big message from Ten Hag and the rest of the team saying ‘Listen, David, if we’re doing this you have to fill that gap. You can’t just be stood in your six yard box, you have to be stood on the edge of your box and you have to be covering those through balls’.

“As long as everyone is on the same page and they know what’s happening then Luke Shaw and the centre-backs Martinez and Lindelof can push up because they know he’ll be there to snuff out any balls over the top.

“You don’t just find your way into stuff like that, it has to be a message before the game or a style of play that you do week in week out.”

On De Gea’s ability to play the role at Man Utd long term, Foster added: “He’s definitely got the ability to pick passes out and be calm for sure but United need to find a way of playing where when the ball goes back to him everyone needs to spread out and look for the ball.

“There’s a difference between actually showing that you want the ball and being available for the ball. A lot of defenders will kind of act like they want it but you can tell they don’t actually want it.

“In moments of games De Gea will sense some players don’t want it so he will just kick it long. You’ll then get people saying; ‘Oh he should have kept it there’ but it’s not that simple.”

Harry Maguire and David de Gea at a match

The Spaniard is out of contract at the end of the current season but the Red Devils have the option to extend it for a further year.

Man Utd must then decide whether it is worth renewing the 31-year-old’s contract with the goalkeeper on a huge £350,000-a-week deal.

Foster thinks a long-term renewal would be worthwhile as Man Utd could have to fork out £80m to find another world-class goalkeeper.

The former Man Utd goalkeeper added: “It’s a difficult one. I think the easy option is for him [De Gea] just to sign a new contract and to carry on what he’s doing. The problem with that is that signing a new contract is another £350,000-a-week for the next three or four years, which I’m sure David will be happy to do.

“But on the flipside of it, if you’re going to get someone that will be able to come straight into the first team and play week in week out and to replicate performances like De Gea has been showing, it’s going to cost you £70m or £80m.

“Nobody wants to spend £80m on a goalie! Save that money on a striker. You pay your most money for a striker, then it comes back through the team from the midfield to the defence, the last resort is a goalkeeper.

“The thing with De Gea is you have a good-to-go goalkeeper. You know what you’re going to get from De Gea; he’s a 7 out of 10 every single week and there’s a lot to be said for that.

“You can get a goalkeeper in that will be better with his feet but will he have the shot-saving ability that De Gea has? Will he have the 1vs1 saving? It’s not as simple as getting a goalie in that can play with his feet because there’s so many other factors than just that.”

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