Manchester United Must Not Risk Losing David De Gea to Barcelona
Losing David De Gea after three seasons wasn't part of Sir Alex Ferguson's plan when he brought the young goalkeeper to England from Spain.
The only issue was his age.
But the advantage of signing a 20-year-old goalkeeper is that, with a bit of luck, he can be your No.1 for 15 years.
United must do their part and give him the chance to do that. And that means reviewing his contract when the time is right.
With just under three years left on his current deal, that time is now.
Contract negotiations are often long, drawn-out affairs.
And so, United are right to err on the side of caution and start talking to De Gea and his representatives as soon as possible.
The 22-year-old has proved in the last 12 months that he's worth the extra investment.
There have been some nervous moments—the 3-2 defeat to Blackburn at Old Trafford on New Year's Eve two year's ago was a particular lowlight—but he's come out the other side.
He's come a long way, both physically and mentally.
Peter Schmeichel said his save from Emanuele Giaccherini's header against Sunderland was one of the best he's seen. That's quite a compliment.
If United risk letting De Gea get into the final two years of his contract, which ends in 2016, he'll have plenty of other suitors.
Victor Valdes insists he will not renew his contract at Barcelona when it expires in the summer, instead preferring a new challenge elsewhere.
De Gea will also be on the list of candidates. So comfortable with the ball at his feet, he would be a perfect fit in Catalonia.
Any Spanish goalkeeper, or indeed any goalkeeper, would have to think about the opportunity to join Barcelona.
But United can do their part to ward off any unwanted advances by tying him to a new contract as soon as possible.
It might seem premature to offer a new deal to a player with more than two-and-a-half years on his current one.
But modern football demands that contract negotiations are conducted in such ways.
Having spent two years molding De Gea into one of the world's best, United can't afford any mistakes when dealing with his future.
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