Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea in demand after heroics against Real Madrid

Goalkeeper's Bernabeu brilliance sparks talk of La Liga return but team-mates sure he will be Manchester United star

Manchester United’s players have demanded that their young goalkeeper David de Gea be given time and  patience to succeed at their club, after the 22-year-old’s huge role in securing a draw at the Bernabeu left Spain salivating over the idea of him returning to La Liga.

Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Ryan Giggs all insisted that De Gea was coping with the high level of scrutiny that comes with being a Manchester United goalkeeper, with Giggs observing after the 1-1 draw against Real Madrid that he was being persecuted in a way that a young player  in another position would not be.

“Young outfield players can be brought in and out of a team. But usually if the keeper makes a mistake it’s a goal,” said Giggs. “A centre-forward has to score goals but probably nothing will be said about missed chances. I think there’s a lot of pressure in every position but the centre-forwards are supposed to score goals and the keepers are supposed to keep it out of the net.”

Sir Alex Ferguson moved for De Gea  from Atletico Madrid two summers ago, motivated by having allowed a young Petr Cech, from Rennes, and an even younger Joe Hart, at Shrewsbury Town, to get away because he did not then trust youthful keepers. But the prospects of a summer return to Madrid, where his girlfriend still lives, were enhanced by a display on Wednesday night which the Spanish daily Marca described as “San De Gea’s night” – the “San” moniker meaning “saint” and usually reserved for “San Iker Casillas”. With the national hero Casillas out of favour with Jose Mourinho before he broke a bone in his hand, Diario AS said of the Madrid-born keeper De Gea: “He was the main reason why United left with such a favourable result.”

 Speaking to Madrid-based journalists after the game De Gea said: “I threw myself at everything. They scored a good goal against me but it only beat me by the slightest margin."

The goalkeeper, represented by Jorge Mendes, has been linked with La Liga's top three sides. Barcelona need a replacement for Victor Valdes whose contract – which he has said he will not renew – runs out at the end of next season. Atletico Madrid will lose Chelsea loanee Thibaut Courtois at the end of the season and Real Madrid have been destabilised by Casillas and Mourinho's falling out, with the World Cup winner dropped by his coach.

Ferguson's players added to Giggs' support for a player whose suitability for the United job has been questioned in Britain. "It's never nice when people question you but it's the nature of a club like this," Carrick said. "You are always getting questioned and criticised and that's just how it is and you've got to deal with it. He deals with it. That's fine. He's a top keeper and he's only going to get better. To be at such a young age at this club and have so much on your shoulders it shows what a player he is.

"Coming back home to Madrid as well. It builds a bit of extra spotlight on him. To come here, a place like this, where there's no bigger pressure than this stage of the Champions League. He kept us in the game at times." Phil Jones said De Gea "deserves every credit he gets. He's come into the English league and it's not easy. He's done terrific for us and deserves it".

There are impediments to a return to Spain for De Gea, though. A return to Atletico looks highly improbable. Barcelona are looking at 20-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach keeper Ter Stegen, having hinted that they do not see De Gea as a keeper who suits their needs, and Real Madrid would see less need to replace Casillas if Mourinho does not stay beyond the end of the season.

Marca knew what it saw though. "It was an exhibition of incredible saves," it said of De Gea. "He was outstanding in every aspect of the game and not at all at fault for the goal," they enthused in Spain's biggest selling sports paper. "He saved with his hands his feet, he blocked everything, making eight excellent saves."

Police accused of beating fans

Manchester United fans say that they were attacked with batons at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night by Madrid police – the same force that subjected Manchester City fans to beatings in September.

United fans complained of a crush in the stadium when police prevented them from going up a staircase to their seats close to kick-off. One witness described around 10 riot police blocking a stairwell and hitting supporters with batons.

Among those caught in the crush were women. One report says a steward was handed a baton by police. The club are awaiting a report of a Uefa delegate who saw the scenes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot