This seems a very pragmatic approach and one which could stand his team in good stead for an attack on all fronts next season. However, there is a little about this purchase which for many will seem like a gamble. Age is the first potential pitfall with this signing as 20 is extremely young for a goalkeeper to impose himself at the real top level. Experience is also something potentially levelled against United’s new number one. The Spanish U21 keeper has only completed three seasons as a professional. The first being with the club’s reserves in the Segunda Division B before he made his debut for the first team against Porto in the Champions League in September 2009. He has, however, managed nearly 100 appearances for the Madrid club.
For many, signing someone with little experience in a position that was such a problem for the Old Trafford outfit between Peter Schmeichel and van der Sar could be seen as a risk. However, looking at the haul of trophies that have come his way already it starts to look like a risk worth taking. In his first full season with Atletico he finished with a Europa League winners medal and last season was in the team to beat Inter Milan and take home the Super Cup. He is also coming to Old Trafford on the back of a triumph with the Spanish U21 side. For a man expected to influence the destination of major trophies in the coming years this is undoubtedly valuable experience.
Ferguson clearly rates his new stopper very highly, being willing to part with a fee thought to be in the region of £18.9m to secure his services. This makes him the second most expensive goalkeeper of all time behind Gianluigi Buffon – £32.6m – but way out in front in terms of goalkeepers plying their trade in the Premier League – the nearest being Craig Gordon at £9m. He clearly fits into United’s policy of buying young and securing the future of the side. No doubt he will be thrust into action immediately as he takes the number one spot over the existing keepers, but if he is to be as good as Ferguson’s expects, he could potentially be United’s number one for the next 15 years. Van der Sar may have finally brought the stability since Schmeichel’s departure, but with De Gea this stability could continue well into the future.
The jury will most certainly be out come the Community Shield in August and the start of the season, but with Ferguson’s track record of nurturing young talent there is always the potential that United have another goalkeeping hero on their hands.