Who should replace David De Gea as Man United's new No.1? Goalkeeper options assessed amid transfer links

Author Photo
Getty Images

After 545 appearances for the club, it looks like Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea will be leaving Old Trafford this summer. 

At present, both the Red Devils and the Spaniard remain in talks to potentially extend his contract at the club but according to the most recent reports, they are struggling to find common ground. 

That could leave a spot in goal to be filled for United this off-season and a number of big names have already been heavily linked to the likely vacant position.

In this breakdown we take a look through the goalkeepers linked with filling De Gea's spot at Old Trafford and conclude who would be the best fit for Erik Ten Hag's side. 

Andre Onana

Inter Milan & Cameroon

Getty Images

If you watched any of Inter Milan's Champions League campaign in particular this past season, it'll come as no surprise as to why Manchester United are interested in signing Andre Onana this summer. 

The former Ajax goalkeeper — who only came back from a nine-month ban at the back end of 2021 — joined Inter last season on a free and given that plus the club's financial difficulties, the Red Devils could find a way to get this deal done for south of £50million. 

In truth, that — at least on paper — looks like it would be a very shrewd acquisition this off-season.

Firstly, Onana has proven himself as one of the best shot stoppers in Europe this season. In the Champions League during the 2022/23 campaign, the Cameroon international kept more clean sheets (8) and made more saves (47) than any other goalkeeper across the competition. 

But it's his ball-playing abilities that United should be highlighting to help improve their backline. 

It's no secret that De Gea seriously struggles with passing distribution, making a number of high-profile mistakes over recent seasons that have cost his team dear in big moments. Those will be limited with Onana.

Granted, the Inter goalkeeper does have an error in him but his distribution is miles ahead of De Gea's. 

According to Opta, of the 158 goalkeepers to play 1000 minutes or more across Europe's top seven leagues this season, only 15 could better Onana's 93.8% pass accuracy when playing the ball in his own half.

Further to that, only three of those individuals attempted more own-half passes on a per-90-minute basis (27.0) than the Inter goalkeeper this season, something which could greatly help United boss Erik ten Hag with the way he wants his team to play style-wise. 

Additionally, even Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was quick to heap the praise on Onana after the Champions League final. He said to press when discussing the Italian side's play from the back: "They have a real good process, starting from Onana, an exceptional goalkeeper in the build-up – one of the best in the world right now." 

If the Red Devils can get Onana this summer for a fee of £40 to 50 million, it would be a great addition to their squad, especially as the Cameroonian is still only 27 years old and has a lot of experience under his belt for both club and country. 

Diogo Costa

Porto & Portugal

Getty Images

At the age of just 23, Portuguese goalkeeper Diogo Costa is the youngest of the three shot stoppers who is heavily linked with a switch to Old Trafford this summer. 

With age on his side, he's also the one with the most potential but whether he can fulfil that under the pressure at Manchester United would be something of a concern. 

Currently plying his trade in his native Portugal with Porto, Costa has shone over recent seasons, helping his side to win two league titles and a number of cup competitions during his time in the first team. 

Like Onana, Costa also had a superb campaign in the Champions League this season, becoming the first goalkeeper to save three penalties in a single campaign since 2003/04.

According to Opta, of the 158 goalkeepers to play 1000 minutes or more across Europe's top seven leagues this season, Costa records 0.6 keeper sweepings every 90 minutes, ranking him 24th in that department.

He also completes 92.4% of passes in his own half on average, a substantial improvement on De Gea's 88.03%.

Ultimately, Costa is likely the most appealing goalkeeper on Manchester United's shortlist this summer but the stumbling block may come with his hefty price tag. Reports in Portugal put that at over £60million and given the Red Devils needs to also improve their squad elsewhere on the pitch, they could struggle to complete a deal this summer for the Portuguese international. 

Jordan Pickford

Everton & England

Jordan Pickford Everton Leeds 2020-21

Perhaps the most surprising link in this breakdown, Manchester United are seriously interested in Everton's Jordan Pickford as a De Gea alternative this summer.

With a reported fee of around £50million likely needed to bring the England star to Old Trafford, some Red Devils fans might scoff at the price tag but Pickford has proven himself to be a very good goalkeeper in the Premier League across recent seasons. 

His talents have been especially highlighted during his England appearances, where he's helped the Three Lions gets to a World Cup semifinal and a European Championship final during his tenure. 

For a start, that proves that with a much better backline in front of him Pickford would be a great acquisition for United this summer. 

When directly looking at Pickford's number vs. De Gea's in the Premier League this season, both have performed similarly in terms of shot stopping.

De Gea has a slightly better save percentage at 69.9%, but Pickford's remains solid at 68.51% especially when considering that he faced a higher numbers of shots on target throughout the campaign. 

The Everton shot stopper also outperforms De Gea when it comes to save percentage from shots outside the box, a key weakness that the United number one has struggled with in the past. 

Like Onana before, Pickford's strengths however come mostly with his distribution, anticipation and awareness compared to De Gea. 

To start, last season he recorded 18 keeper sweepings compared to the United goalkeepers 12. Pickford also beat out De Gea with more punches (18 to 12) and catches (20 to 14) which highlights his superior aerial command of his penalty area. 

Again, his distribution was a step above De Gea's despite playing in a relegation-threatened side who weren't offered much freedom under manager Sean Dyche. 

In terms of distribution into his own half, Pickford's rate at 88.6% is stronger and he pulls away when looking at longer distribution. When playing the ball into the opposition's half, his accuracy sat at 30.6% compared to De Gea's 26.7%. On top of that, his accuracy into the final third stood at 27.6%, a number better than Alisson and Emi Martinez for reference. 

The price tag may be too big for a lot of Manchester United fans, but Pickford has all the tools to be an instant improvement on De Gea between the sticks for the Red Devils. 

Author Photo
Nathan Evans is a data editor for The Sporting News.