David de Gea signed for Man Utd in 2011 from Atletico Madrid; his contract is due to expire in 2023, but the club hold an option to extend it by a further 12 months; De Gea is on course to add to his record haul of four Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards
Tuesday 22 February 2022 08:24, UK
David de Gea says he does not see himself playing for anyone other than Manchester United as the long-serving goalkeeper prepares to take on former club Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Wednesday's last-16 first leg sees the 31-year-old face his boyhood club for the first time since swapping the Spanish capital for Old Trafford in 2011.
The Spain international has downplayed the occasion but he could face a mixed reception from Atletico fans given he almost completed a long-mooted move to rivals Real Madrid in 2015.
Instead, De Gea has expressed his love for United and Manchester as a whole, suggesting he would be open to extending his deal beyond 2023.
"I like the fact I was born in Madrid, but at the end of the day, it's just a city," said De Gea, whose contract includes a one-year extension clause.
"Now I feel as if I'm from Manchester; I just feel like anyone else from Manchester. Where you are loved and welcomed is your home.
"I've been here for many years and, obviously, anything can happen in life, in the world of football, but honestly I don't see myself away from Manchester United.
"Of course, I'm going back home [for this tie], I'm going back to the club that gave me the opportunity to be who I am today.
"But this is just another match. Everyone wants to play well, we want to win, it is a Champions League match.
"Obviously, I wish Atletico all the best, but I don't know whether the fact we're playing them is a good or bad omen. Everyone is going there to win, especially me."
De Gea has made 473 appearances for United since joining from Atletico and is on course to add to his record haul of four Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards.
He has shone this season, having bounced back from some poor displays in recent years and increased competition from Dean Henderson, by displaying the kind of mental strength that helped him break through as a teenager at Atletico.
"At that moment, I was kind of the third-choice goalkeeper (behind Sergio Asenjo and Roberto)," he told UEFA. "I always believed in myself.
"I used to train a lot and just tried to prove: 'I am here, I may be young but I'm good enough'.
"I tried to do my best, and then, it was fortunate for me but unfortunate for Roberto that he got injured and I got the chance to prove that I was good enough.
"When Quique (Sanchez Flores) arrived, the team changed. We won game after game, and there was a moment when Asenjo and I were both available and he chose me.
"I played nearly every game. We made it to the final of the Europa League, and we won it.
"We also made it to the final of the Copa del Rey. We lost, but at least we made it to the final, and then we won the Super Cup against that great Inter side."
Manchester United do have vulnerabilities. David De Gea has made 92 saves, which is the most in the Premier League, with Illan Meslier, the Leeds goalkeeper, second. It is not a good reflection on these teams. Manchester United have got to become more difficult to play against.
They are playing Atletico Madrid away on Wednesday; they have got Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City coming up. It is a big month and that month is going to define the season in terms of finishing in the top four and progressing in the Champions League.
There is a lot of stuff coming out on a continuous basis: the captaincy, who they want as the next manager, cliques in the dressing room. All that sort of stuff comes out, but they do continue to keep having those big moments in matches where their brilliant players can still deliver for them and they do win games in moments.
But the test is now the next month. This period was always going to come and it is here. That was the start of it and I thought it was a really difficult game. Leeds are a team who do invite you on to try and score goals against them, but it is still one of the most difficult places for Manchester United to come.
They have got to stop those mad moments, those five-minute periods where they concede two goals, because if you concede two against City, Liverpool or Atletico, you are out of the game. I think this [the game against Leeds] is a warning sign.
Manchester United needed these points in the bag. It is inconceivable that, coming out of Tottenham at home, Manchester City away and Liverpool away that they are going to get seven to nine points. As a United fan, I hope they do, but they could easily come out of those three games with four points or five points or three points - you don't know. They are the type of games in any season over the last five or 10 years you could lose.
If you are Ralf Rangnick, you have got to plan that you are going to drop points in those three matches, not that you would foresee it or want it, but it could happen. These points that he has got from these last few matches will be needed. Arsenal have still got games in hand, as have Tottenham. There's a long way to go, but Manchester United are in a decent position.
If you had said to me when Rangnick took over with the run of fixtures that they have got, this is where I would have wanted them to have been, maybe a point or two in front. I still don't think it is plain-sailing and I still think it could turn quite quickly as I don't think it is stable behind the scenes at all.
I'm looking forward to Madrid on Wednesday and I hope Manchester United can have a good game, but they have got to come back and do the business on the weekends. It is really important they get that fourth-place spot."