‘I can’t ignore it’ – Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag on David de Gea’s kicking

March 10, 2023

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag admits he “can’t ignore” David de Gea’s errant kicking during their Europa League win over Real Betis.

De Gea’s distribution has come under scrutiny in recent years but his kicking was particularly dire in the 4-1 victory against Betis, who almost scored from one sloppy pass by De Gea.

United are in discussions with De Gea, 31, over a new contract and he claimed the club’s clean sheet record with his 181st shutout in the League Cup final against Newcastle.

However, there is ongoing uncertainty over De Gea’s long-term role in the United side in an era where ‘keepers’ kicking is instrumental to attacks.

“From today I can’t ignore it, but I think we have seen many games he did really well,” Ten Hag said. “I don’t know what the reason today was.

“We work on [his kicking] but David is working on that. But I think we have seen in this season that he is improving and he will keep improving, I’m sure.”

De Gea is technically out of contract in the summer but United have the option of an additional year to tie him to the club until 2024.

Back-up goalkeeper Tom Heaton is in an identical contractual situation, Jack Butland’s loan expires at the end of the season and United could sell Dean Henderson in the summer.