Were Manchester United Right To Sign David De Gea Instead of Manuel Neuer?

Manchester United could have signed Manuel Neuer, but Sir Alex was persuaded into signing a young David De Gea instead.

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that David De Gea was not his first choice keeper after the retirement of Edwin Van Der Sar. Instead, it was World Cup champion and Bayern Munich stalwart Manuel Neuer who caught the eye of the legendary manager.

"Eric Steele (then United goalkeeping coach) had been scouting David De Gea for quite a while, but then Neuer came on the scene at Schalke. And I think Schalke would've been happy if we'd have gone and taken him," said Ferguson. "So my problem was Eric, because he was adamant that we must take De Gea. I said 'but Eric, the boy Neuer is the complete unit; he's mature, his physique is unbelievable,' and he says 'yeah, but in three years' time, De Gea will be better'." 

David De Gea has certainly been United's most consistent performer over the last few seasons and is definitely one of the top goalkeepers in the world. However, whether he is better than Neuer comes down to preference. Neuer has mastered the art of the "sweeper-keeper" while De Gea stands as probably the best shot-stopper in the world. 

Manuel Neuer has conceded less goals in the league than De Gea, having conceded just 13 in 28 games, while De Gea has conceded 25 in 27 games. Neuer also has more clean sheets: 18 to De Gea's 12. 

A huge caveat to those stats however is the fact that Bayern Munich are absolutely dominant in the Bundesliga, which means that Neuer remains relatively untested. This is pretty clear when you look at the save count. 

De Gea has made 63 saves this season while Neuer has made a mere 32. They also have similar saves-per-goal ratios (2.63 to 2.67) despite the fact that Neuer has conceded half the goals that De Gea has. It's clear that De Gea is the busier keeper, and he is often the only bright spot in a very mediocre Manchester United side. 

Conversely, Neuer might face one shot on target the entire game. Remember when Neuer was so bored during Bayern's 4-0 demolition of Schalke, he actually ran practice drills with substitute Thomas Muller while the game was going on?

It is these discrepancies in the quality around them that make comparing the two really an exercise in futility. They're obviously both fantastic keepers, and if this revelation had come to light a few years ago, people probably would have been more shocked by it. 

As it stands however, we can see now that it probably was the right decision for United to go with De Gea, who has grown to become one of the best in the world. He may not have quite surpassed Neuer yet, but it's surely only a matter of time. 

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