Manchester United's win at Juventus was a tale of two goalkeepers - one elite and one who will never get there

De Gea showed why United need to give him a new contract and why Juve are so keen to outbid them to do exactly that

Miguel Delaney
Thursday 08 November 2018 07:05
Jose Mourinho hails 'fantastic' win against Juventus

When you’re a club that has got as close to the Champions League as Juventus have over the past few seasons, and still fallen so agonisingly short, it’s difficult not to dwell on the little details; the initially innocuous-seeming individual moments that could have gone another way.

So what, then, is the reaction to massive errors like that of your new number one, Wojciech Szczesny?

What runs through the minds of their hierarchy, when they have recently been obsessively single-minded about aiming so high? This has never been a club for indulging errors and the prevailing feeling is that, just as Juventus have solved a problem at one end with the signing of a supreme, generationally-talented goalscorer like Cristiano Ronaldo, a different problem has suddenly presented itself in an inferior goalkeeper.

This is not to deny that Szczesny is a fundamentally good shot-stopper, or has significantly improved since his time at Arsenal.

It’s just that he’s never going to be top class. And, when you’re a club like Juventus who are looking to make that final leap to the truly elite level, you have to maximise every possible area.

Szczesny, for all his virtues, will never do that. There’s always that lingering worry he has those game-changing moments, like that last-minute slip for Ashley Young’s free-kick, in him.

None of this can be said for the goalkeeper Juventus were facing, and who once again so drastically influenced the result for Manchester United.

David De Gea really is at the level where he is responsible for a disproportionate number of points for Jose Mourinho. He makes so many saves he really shouldn’t, setting his side up for draws and wins they really shouldn’t get.

Szczesny has improved immensely but remains a level below the elite keeper Juventus need (AFP/Getty Images)

It is absolutely no exaggeration to say he is a Ronaldo of goalkeepers in that sense.

And his proposed new contract remains unsigned. It runs out in 2019, though United have the option of a one-year extension.

There has already been tentative interest from Juventus, and the feeling must be that a club as business-like as this will investigate the possibility of signing the Spaniard as his current deal runs down.

Part of the problem is that De Gea’s camp now actually recognise that value. While the feeling is that he really wants to stay, and is content at Old Trafford, there is a fair belief that he should be on Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez money. It’s hard to dispute.

Szczesny's back-up, Mattia Perin, remains highly rated by Juve 

Those who watch Serie A will greatly dispute that Szczesny is that much of a problem, and will talk up his performances there, but it is highly relevant that those around Juventus immediately talk up substitute Mattia Perin at the merest hint of an error.

The young Italian is highly rated, but there are some doubts about elements of his game, particularly his feet.

De Gea is a goalkeeper that eliminates doubt for his club. He’s just such a guarantee.

Juventus will have been reminded of the power of that on Wednesday. United too should have been reminded of it, and of the requirement to give their most important player what he deserves in the form of a new contract.

The contrast between the goalkeepers could not have been greater, and it made the difference on the night.

It might not make the fatal difference for Juventus. They can of course still win the Champions League with Szczesny. It’s just they’d look much more like winning it with someone like De Gea.

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