Lindegaard: De Gea can replace me – in 10 years
Manchester United's Anders Lindegaard has affirmed his belief that he can push David de Gea out of contention as the club's first-choice goalkeeper, asserting that it is his job to make sure the Spaniard is the club's No1 in 10 years' time, after his own retirement.
Lindegaard is vying to appear for United against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday after recording three successive starts for the first time since his move from Aalesund a year ago.
Of De Gea, the Dane said: "He has extraordinary attributes, extremely explosive and powerful. He is only 21. His potential is massive and there is no doubt he will be United's best goalkeeper at some point. My job is to make sure it is not until I have retired. Which is [in] 10 years."
Lindegaard, whose chances of becoming a regular seemed to have been eclipsed when De Gea arrived from Atlético Madrid last summer at a value £15m higher than his own, has never lacked self belief. Before Denmark played Norway in a crucial Euro 2012 qualifier last year, he even laid into his compatriots, claiming the Danish people were arrogant in their belief that they would be the better side. His discussion of who should become Sir Alex Ferguson's goalkeeper of choice is more nuanced than that, though he believes that his record – six goals conceded in 10 games in all competitions this season – tells a story.
When it was put to him that simply keeping De Gea out of the side speaks well of his own form, the 27-year-old replied: "Of course it does. I am very proud of what I have done. Three years ago I was in Denmark's second division [with Odense]. Nobody knew my name. When I first came here nobody could pronounce it. It has been fantastic to this point and right now is not the time to relax, but to keep pushing on, to get better and to get the best for yourself and the club.
"Of course, everyone wants to play as much as possible and I'm no different to anyone else. I don't need a definition of my position. I enjoy every game I play for United, it is a massive privilege and I don't look at things the way you guys do."
The Odense experience proved to be a fairly miserable one. The Danish side signed former United keeper Roy Carroll from Derby County in 2009, forcing Lindegaard to start again in Norway with Aalesund, much to his indignation. "Odense has a history of playing old players and not giving youngsters a go," he said last summer. "I was very angry with the people who didn't believe in me."
There was also general mirth in Denmark when Lindegaard said he should be considered for the national team, while playing in a Norwegian league that the Danes consider inferior to their own. But he has proved himself internationally, too.
He was unsure whether he needed the security of a run of games to be at his best but he has certainly proved that he can seize a fleeting opportunity. "I think both David and myself have played well when we've been thrown into it," he said. "I don't know about [the need for a run of games] but it's obvious both me and David want to play every game, as well as Antonio [Valencia], Rafael and Fabio [da Silva]."
Lindegaard said he had offered support to De Gea after performances, such as those against West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers in the first half of the season, in which the Spaniard displayed a lack of security.
"I am doing everything I can to help him," he said. "I enjoy working with him. He's a great lad. He is happy, intelligent, always with a good attitude and we have to push each other. We have to see the glass half full, not half empty, at this point and we have to push each other in the right direction.
"Every time we play the last guy to wish the keeper good luck is the other keeper. But everyone wants to play. That is what we are here for – not to sit here and pick our noses."
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