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03rd Dec 2017

David De Gea is the best player in the world

He sees things that mere mortals cannot conceive

Conan Doherty

David De Gea is better in his position than Lionel Messi is now.

Forget about him being a goalkeeper, surpassing Manuel Neuer – as a footballer, no-one is operating on the same level as David De Gea is. No-one in any area of the field in any country on the planet can touch him at the minute.

Cristiano Ronaldo will win the Ballon d’Or next month and he deserves to because of whoever the hell decided to put the event in January and basically rule out half the year every year in their judging criteria.

Ronaldo and Messi will go down as two of the greatest of all time and, in their generation, there isn’t a player who could lay reasonable claim to being anywhere near the pair when it comes to the heights they’ve reached, the records they’ve broken, the influence they’ve had and how consistently they were able to uphold those standards and that magic.

Right now though, De Gea is ahead of them.

What was most impressive about his jaw-dropping display against Arsenal on Saturday was that he started it rather shakily. Twice, the Spaniard uncharacteristically fumbled a ball and allowed it to drop dangerously right into his six-yard box but, like all the best players, those errors didn’t define his performance.

All the greats lose the ball, they misplace a pass or spurn a big chance and they do it in pursuit of perfection. They do it because they’re not playing safe and they’re not afraid to make a mistake because they know they will get another opportunity to make something happen and they know they’ll probably capitalise.

It’s a little different for De Gea because he has to wait for the game to come to him but, even when the tide comes washing in, he’s always able to hold it back.

It might be a different plan, a more patient one, but it’s the same mindset. It’s a genius mindset. A match-winning one.

Every save De Gea makes, he makes it that particular way for a particular reason. He decides where the ball goes when it comes off his hand, he decides how fast or slow it parries away and he even decides when it’s best to actually put his hand to it.

As a shot-stopper, there’s no-one better in world football. He has redefined the limitations of human potential. When you watch any other goalkeeper concede any sort of goal now, you’re bemused because you have an image of De Gea’s outline and biomechanics moving around the same goal line and you always come to the same conclusion, “De Gea would’ve saved that”.

He’s ruined goalkeeping for every goalkeeper because he has set the bar so high that none of them are getting away with mediocrity anymore.

Every shot suddenly can be saved – because De Gea can save it.

His reflexes are in another dimension, they have to be. His athleticism, whether it’s for a big man or a small man, is freakish. He’s the best passer in his position too and he has what sets the best apart, clutch.

They say big players make big plays in big games. David De Gea has never not delivered when Manchester United have needed him to deliver and, frankly, they need him a lot.

He answers different questions under relentless scrutiny – from close-range, from rebounds, from high and low. He faces the sort of onslaught that pressures him into coming good time and time again, way more than any other player has to. But he doesn’t just come good, he comes to extraordinary levels and, just when you think he’s reached the top, he breaks through another wall. Now, he’s sitting so far out on his own he must be worried that he’s gone too far.

It is Matrix-levels of thinking, Matrix-levels of moving. He sees things that mere mortals cannot conceive. He produces things that everyone else can’t even see.

Possibilities have been reset because of David De Gea. Impossibilities? The jury’s still out.

De Gea will decide.


David de Gea