Graeme Souness believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should bring Dean Henderson back to Old Trafford next season to ‘light a fire’ under David de Gea and get him out of his ‘armchair’ amid criticism over his form.
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane tore into De Gea following his mistake in the 1-1 draw at Tottenham as he said he would have ‘thrown punches’ at him and Gary Neville added that the goalkeeper has been in decline for two years since the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
De Gea got the support of Solskjaer ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Sheffield United when he was referred to as the ‘best goalkeeper in the world’. But for Souness, a lack of a challenge for his spot has been a major factor in his decline.
David de Gea has faced stinging criticism over his form following the Premier League restart
Dean Henderson has impressed on loan at Sheffield United and could challenge back at United
Graeme Souness feels Henderson can ‘light a fire’ under De Gea in a fight for the No 1 spot
‘How long do you wait as a manager? At big clubs you cannot wait for ever and this is the second season he has been dodgy,’ Souness said on Sky Sports. ‘I would get Henderson back and if he is good enough, he’s ready.
‘He comes back and puts De Gea under pressure. They fight it out between them and get the best out of both of them you are doing your job.
‘The clock is ticking on De Gea. He is an unorthodox goalkeeper and as a manager you cannot wait forever. I think De Gea has been in his arm chair, I would bring Henderson back and light the fire under him.
‘I think (Henderson) is a big time Charlie and sees himself as ready. You won’t know if he is good enough for United until you bring him back. As a manager you have a duty to do the right thing and get the best player in goal.’
De Gea’s mistakes have been scrutinised and he was culpable of one away against Tottenham
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has since said he feels De Gea is still ‘the best goalkeeper in the world’
Henderson, 23, has been outstanding for Sheffield United during his loan spells and has played a key role in having them on the cusp of European football.
But while Souness was unequivocal about the need to bring him back and unsettle De Gea to coax out his best form, Neville urged caution, reminding his fellow pundits the size of the gap between what he will face at the two clubs.
‘What I don’t buy into is the idea Dean Henderson can go straight into that goal in front of the Stretford End,’ he said. ‘It takes a special kind of player to do it. De Gea deserves a break and to get the opportunity to correct his form.
‘At the moment he is going through a difficult patch and it is mentally tough, you’re challenged. The scrutiny is on him constantly. It is a lonely place out there and with respect to Sheffield United, it is very different for Manchester United than Sheffield United.’
Following some push-back from Souness and fellow in-studio pundit Jamie Redknapp, Neville added: ‘My point is, to make that decision, to make Henderson No 1 you are essentially dismissing De Gea and what he has done for United for seven to eight years. I would urge caution on that.
Jamie Redknapp added that he feels Henderson’s ceiling is as one of the best in the world
The 23-year-old has played a key role in helping Sheffield United challenge for Europe
‘There were times in my day we had goalkeepers who were talented but struggled to cope with the scrutiny.’
Henderson was ineligible to play against his parent club on Wednesday night but has seen his reputation enhance to the point where Solskjaer admitted he can see the 23-year-old eventually become both Manchester United and England’s No 1.
‘I have no doubt he will be one of the best goalkeepers in the world in a few years,’ Redknapp concurred.
‘The goal he conceded against Newcastle I felt he made a big mistake but we sort of half-analysed it. When you play for Liverpool or Manchester United you are under a different kind of pressure.
‘Him developing at Sheffield United now is the best thing for him. He doesn’t want to go there as a No 2. He’s made for the top, that bit of arrogance to play at the top level and it is only a matter of time. He will be a top goalkeeper.’
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