David De Gea - From Manchester United's Dark Knight to The Joker
- Does anybody else miss the old Dave? Manchester United certainly do.
In the last fortnight, Manchester United stopper David De Gea has literally gone from being the best goal-keeper in the league and a fan favourite to getting hurled abuses from his own fans at the Theatre of Dreams.
It all started at Camp Nou where De Gea faced probably the best player of this generation, but no one would have ever thought Messi would smash in an average shot from his weaker foot, and the Spaniard would mess it up by letting it slip from his hands into the goal.
Then came a chance of redemption for De Gea and the whole bunch of Red Devils when the team traveled to Goodison Park to face a stern test against Everton. It wouldn't be right to blame De Gea for the four goals United let in that day, but a goalkeeper definitely gets some stick every time he concedes three or more goals in a single game. It was one such Premier League for the ex-Atletico Madrid goal-keeper to forget.
Followed by the shambolic defeats against Barcelona and Everton, the United team with De Gea guarding the post, hosted Manchester City in a must win game for the Cityzens if they wanted to win the title, and the visitors lived upto the expectations with a 2-0 victory. But Bernardo Silva's opening goal again exposed the current chaotic situation of De Gea - a shot and goal at the near post which the Spaniard would have blindly saved if we were witnessing a 2016 De Gea here.
De Gea's impossible save from Juan Mata's free-kick at Stamford Bridge back when Mata was still at Chelsea, is still totally fresh in every follower's mind.
Almost the whole world was sure it was going in until De Gea probably made the longest jump of his career to get his fingertips on it and pushed it away to safety - De Gea at his premium best.
The captions and banners of 'Dave Saves' have flown on social media and at Old Trafford almost week in week out, back in the day when De Gea has consistently saved United from the jaws of defeat for many matches in a row.
Let's be honest that United have not been even near that team under Sir Alex Ferguson, and even a manager of Jose Mourinho's capabilities could only manage to win one Europa League in his stint with the club.
Since the departure of Nemanja Vidic and later Rio Ferdinand, United has not seen a single defender who can be compared to these legends. But for sure, United fans would not be missing Edwin van der Sar in the post, and the reason - David De Gea.
It is amazing to see the highlights of some previous games of United when the club was going through a tough phase from 2016 onwards, and to get shell-shocked at watching the saves De Gea has pulled off for the club.
One has to commend the patience he has shown in the United goal-post, because having a back four which changes probably with every manager every season, and still save the club from embarrassing defeats yourself is something not any player can pull off, that too for three seasons in a row.
Never has De Gea publicly criticized his club's form, and in every post-game interview, he has always been optimistic about where the club was heading.
When Real Madrid were linked to both Thibaut Courtois and David De Gea before the World Cup last summer, it was probably De Gea who needed the move more, but Spain's early exit from the World Cup and Courtois pulling in his career-best form in the same tournament definitely cemented Madrid's decision to go for the Belgian.
Gary Neville said a couple of days back, that De Gea looks nothing like himself right now.
It is obvious for the player to be distracted when he has been the club's best player for the past few seasons, and to have had his contract talks halted by the management. The ongoings might not just be distracting, but may also seem to be insulting for the player.
But the worst that can United can get from such a situation? De Gea's on pitch fiasco.
There is little that can be said about De Gea's future at United right now, with his contract talks still on hold. The hesitance of Manchester United on giving De Gea a contract he expects might just be the final nail in the coffin for the Spaniard's stint at Old Trafford, and there is no doubt there must be clubs in Italy, France and Germany who would be more than happy to sign the player at even higher wages.
With Buffon almost at the end of his career, Paris Saint-Germain might make a move for the unhappy and distracted De Gea in the summer.
It is difficult to imagine that such thoughts on David De Gea, which would have been considered outrageous even a month ago, but the last few games have really changed the scene in the United dressing room for the Spanish goalkeeper.
If the Spaniard doesn't end this season well, he might just be heading for an United exit in the next winter transfer window or so.