Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has established himself as one of the finest shot-stoppers in world football. After showing genuine promise as a teenager whilst playing for his boyhood club Atletico Madrid, he rose to stardom at the turn of the decade when he joined Manchester United for the then British record fee for a goalkeeper in 2011 to replace the retired Edwin Van Der Sar.
Indeed it was big gloves to fill for the slim, unproven young Spaniard who, just like many foreign players in the Premier League, found life extremely difficult in his initial years. He made a number of high profile mistakes in his early stage at United, losing his number one spot momentarily, but then regained it permanently after retaining the club's faith and trust with a series of match-winning performances. Huge credit certainly goes to Sir Alex Ferguson who confessed at the time that the media were desperate for De Gea to fail.
De Gea has merited his place in United's folklore and his four Sir Matt Busby Players' player of the year are a vindication of this fact. His shot-stopping abilities are unquestionably second to none and his agility is outstanding. In this article, we analyze the top 5 saves made by De Gea in this decade.
The Spanish goalkeeper has produced a handful of jaw-dropping saves in his decade-long career at Manchester United and Spanish national team and a compilation of only five saves doesn't do justice to his incredible performance in the last decade. But in this list, the saves have been put down on the basis of the importance and relevance of the match and how impressive they were to the eye of the onlookers.
#5 Glenn Murray (Crystal Palace vs Manchester United, 2015)
Manchester United secured a crucial victory in May 2015 at Crystal Palace that put them within touching distance of qualifying for the Champions League. Goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini saw them preserve a slender 2-1 advantage, but they called out to David De Gea to bail them out with a tremendous instinctive save in the second half just moments before they found the winner courtesy of Fellaini.
Scott Dann teed up Glenn Murray from a long ball, and the Palace striker had De Gea to beat. Murray who is deadly from those positions attempted a deft chip and De Gea threw out an arm to save it. It proved to be a priceless moment for the United 'Player of the Year' as his side would go on to score the winner minutes later.
#4 Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal vs Man United, 2017)
Manchester United produced a ruthless counter-attacking masterclass in December 2017 when they traveled to Emirates to play Arsenal. They punished Arsenal's defensive mistakes, courtesy of a brace from Jesse Lingard and an Antonio Valencia strike to become just the second team to win a league game at Arsenal in 2017.
However, this was another highlight reel of De Gea's incredible goalkeeping display. Jose Mourinho confessed after the match he had 'the best goalkeeper in the world' in his team. Arsenal fired 33 shots, with 14 of those kept out by the brilliant Spaniard. De Gea equaled the Premier League record of 14 saves in a match and Arsene Wenger called his performance 'outstanding'.
His save from Alexis Sanchez from point-blank range raised a handful of eyebrows from those watching. Arsenal were in control of proceedings in the second-half but were trailing 2-1 when De Gea showed controlled genius with his feet to keep out Alexis Sanchez just a few seconds after saving from Alexandre Lacazzette. De Gea had barely little time to improvise after saving a rasping effort from Lacazzette when the Chilean followed up the rebound. But somehow managed to stick out a boot and thwart the danger.
#3 Leighton Baines (Man United vs Everton, 2014)
Manchester United were in transition in 2014 and under the tutelage of Louis Van Gaal, they signed Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. The pair combined in October 2014 to beat Everton 2-1 at Old Trafford and push United into the Premier League top four for the first time in over a year.
But this was a match that will fondly be remember for David De Gea's exceptional goalkeeping athleticism. In fact, his saves in this match alone were so ridiculously good that even legendary United keeper Peter Schmeichel tweeted after the match that De Gea had won his team two points.
De Gea produced a remarkable save in stoppage time to keep out Bryan Oviedo's vicious strike to confirm the points, but it was his penalty save from Leighton Baines in first-half stoppage time that was the centerpiece. Baines - Everton's first-choice left-back and their regular penalty taker - had not missed a Premier League penalty until he faced the United stopper.
He side-footed low to his left and De Gea went the right way and stretched a firm wrist to keep it out. It preserved United's lead and that was Baines' first penalty miss in the Premier League.
#2 Sergio Aguero (Man City vs Man United, 2018)
In another match where Manchester United demonstrated their incredible powers of recovery, they stunned the Etihad Stadium in a league game against rivals Manchester City in April 2018. City scored twice in a breathless first-half and had one hand on the Premier League title.
But Jose Mourinho, the then Manchester United manager would not allow his team to be the circus of the show at the end of the match in which Guardiola's side would have been crowned champions. Paul Pogba inspired a second-half fightback with two goals in the space of two minutes before Chris Smalling steered Alexis Sanchez's free-kick past Ederson to put United ahead.
However, all good work could have been undone had it not been for David De Gea's fabulous save in the final few minutes. Leroy Sane's cross was headed towards goal by Sergio Aguero and the Spanish keeper produced a world-class save to tip the ball over the bar that left Aguero gasping with hands on his head. Although City would claim the title the week after, this was a victory that ensured United cemented their second-place position.
#1 Juan Mata (Chelsea vs Manchester United, 2012)
This is one of the most underrated saves in Premier League history, but undoubtedly the turning point in De Gea's Manchester United career. United traveled to Stamford Bridge in February 2012 for a league game against Chelsea.
The Blues had taken a commanding 3-0 lead in the match before the Red Devils produced a stirring fightback in the second half. And in the injury time, they were indebted to the heroics of De Gea who was brought into the team after Anders Lindegaard was ruled out of the match due to injury.
Juan Mata who was Chelsea's talisman at the time struck exquisitely from a direct free-kick 25 yards out to De Gea's left. With the ball destined to the top corner and Stamford Bridge about to lose its roof, the Spanish keeper dived spectacularly, showing his supernatural reflexes by tipping the ball around the post with a big right hand. It was a save that ultimately helped United snatch a point away at Chelsea. De Gea admitted that save was the defining moment in his United career