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A man who took in a brief spell between the sticks at Old Trafford at the height of his career has backed the Spaniard to rediscover his best form

David de Gea is still “one of the best goalkeepers in Europe”, according to Massimo Taibi, who says the Manchester United number one will “come back stronger” after the most challenging period of his career to date.

De Gea has been a fixture in United’s starting XI since joining the club from Atletico Madrid back in 2011, racking up 407 appearances in total across all competitions.

The 29-year-old has picked up seven major honours during that period, including one Premier League title, while also scooping the in-house Player of the Year award at Old Trafford on four occasions.

He established himself as arguably the best shot-stopper in the business during a frustrating transitional period for the Red Devils, but a man once revered for his consistency between the sticks has seen his standards to slip in recent seasons.

De Gea’s form has taken a turn for the worst since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to the club, and his erratic performances in 2019-20 cost United several important results, with a nightmare showing in an FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea marking his lowest moment yet.

The Spain international’s place in the team is no longer guaranteed, with Dean Henderson champing at the bit to prove his worth after being called back from a loan spell at Sheffield United earlier this summer.

However, Taibi says it is impossible to pass judgement on De Gea because of how much he has achieved at United, and he is certain that the under-fire keeper will knuckle down and get back to his best.

The former Red Devils keeper, who endured his own high-profile struggles at Old Trafford, told American Gambler: “De Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe.

“In England, he has been incredible. Yes, you can have the odd game where it doesn’t quite go like you had hoped, but he is so good that he will easily rediscover his form.

“You just work hard and someone like him will come back stronger. For me, he’s a goalkeeper you can’t even judge. He is one of the best.”

Pressed on who stands out as the world’s best keeper ahead of De Gea at the moment, Taibi named Bayern Munich star Manuel Neuer, before suggesting AC Milan‘s Gianluigi Donnarumma could be a great signing for United in the future.

“For me, it’s Bayern Munich’s goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer. He is simply the best,” he said. “In terms of who I would love for Manchester United to sign, I don’t say this because I’m Italian, but I have to also pick Gianluigi Donnarumma.

“He’s only 21 and is already one of the best and can still improve significantly. He would be a fantastic signing for Manchester United.”

Taibi, who played alongside Solskjaer and a whole host of other world-class players at Old Trafford in 1999-2000, was also asked if he ever envisaged the Norwegian becoming United manager, to which he responded: “Look, in 2000, it was difficult to truly tell. I wasn’t really aware of it at that stage. Like everyone, he took training very seriously. To be a starter at United was not easy for anyone.

“United had 25 or 26 top, top players so one game it might by Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, then you had Sheringham, Solskjaer. Becks, Giggs. So many tremendous players and Fergie could rotate the squad easily and still have so much quality. 

“But there, the luck was to have a coach like Steve McClaren and a manager like Ferguson who taught you everything. They were professors.”

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September 30, 2020
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