David De Gea is the undisputed star of world football. All European scouts knew about his enormous talent, even when the Spaniard was listed in the academy of Atletico Madrid. Of course, Sir Alex Ferguson also saw the prospects for De Gea.
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In the fall of 2019, De Gea extended his contract with Manchester United until 2023. According to British media reports, the Spaniard now earns the most in the English Premier League – 375 thousand pounds a week (19.5 million pounds a year).
It is unlikely that these are related things, but in the last year and a half De Gea began to play worse. Blots have become more frequent, more goals conceded and fewer saves. In two seasons (2018/19 and 2019/20), De Gea made seven mistakes in the Premier League, leading to a goal. During the same period, only Martin Dubravka and Jordan Pickford allowed more – eight.
This led to the fact that in the summer of 2020, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seriously thought about changing number one – from a successful loan to Sheffield United returned Manchester United graduate Dean Henderson and during the season won the right to be considered the main goalkeeper of the superclub.
The nightmare club season ended for De Gea with a real sporting tragedy – in the Europa League final with Villarreal, the Spaniard missed all 11 penalty kicks and missed the decisive blow. The Manchester United goalkeeper was defeated – even Ferguson went down to the lawn after the awards ceremony and personally calmed his protégé.
De Gea is badly hitting the penalty spot. In the match with Villarreal, the Spaniard even had a cheat sheet – he knew how all opponents beat most often. But all the same, Manchester United lost. De Gea saved his last penalty in April 2016.
Unai Simon is the current goalkeeper of the Spanish national team. The 24-year-old goalkeeper from Bilbao has better reflected penalties, which he proved in the quarterfinal series with Switzerland – the Basque parried two hits and embarrassed Vargas with movements on the line, who sent the ball higher. After the meeting, Simon was awarded the prize for the best football player of the match.
But, of course, it was not only because of the penalty that Luis Enrique made a choice in favor of the Athletic goalkeeper. Basques in the last championship of Spain took the tenth place, but only the first five teams in the table conceded less than them. Simon is physically strong, which distinguishes him from his competitors, and also good at “standards” – in Spain the Basque is considered one of the best when serving from corners and free throws. It is important to add that Enrique did not decide on the first number right before the tournament – Simon made his debut for the Spanish national team on November 11, 2020, but since then he has played all the matches, not counting the only pass (friendly game with Lithuania).
It is unlikely that Simon is a goalkeeper for many years. But a strong season, coupled with De Gea’s recession, allowed the Basque to become number one. He’s not perfect, of course. His horrific mistake in the round of 16 against Croatia will now forever be his hallmark. But here it is pertinent to note that during the break, De Gea approached Simon and set him up for the second half for a long time. This is also an important touch – the star goalkeeper is not at all offended by the situation, but supports his colleague.