David De Gea looking to get his hands on Manchester United captaincy
Goalkeeper believes his experience can show young players what is expected of them
Manchester United’s David de Gea (R) in action during a training session ahead of the International Champions Cup match between against Inter Milan at the National Stadium in Singapore. Photograph: Wallace Woon/EPA
David De Gea said he would love to be named Manchester United captain as the goalkeeper prepares to extend his stay with the club.
The 28-year-old is understood to be preparing to sign a new and improved contract that is likely to tie him down to the Old Trafford giants until 2025.
De Gea’s focus on the future has seen him throw his hat into the ring to become United captain, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær yet to hand out the armband since Antonio Valencia’s summer exit.
“I’ve been captain for some games,” De Gea said. “Of course, it is amazing to be captain of a club like Manchester United and defend this badge. It’s amazing, so of course I’ll be really, really happy to captain.”
De Gea moved to Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and has established himself as one of the world’s best goalkeepers.
Named the club’s player of the year on a record four occasions, De Gea wants to help the club challenge for trophies again.
“It’s my ninth season, I feel like one of the most experienced players,” he said.
“I need to show that on the pitch and try to help the young guys know what Manchester United means and that’s important.
“We have to improve a lot. We are Manchester United; we need to fight for trophies.
“When you put on this badge, that’s what it means – fight for everything, give your best and bring the team again to the top.”
Three years after returning to Old Trafford in what was a world-record €105 million deal, the 26-year-old has publicly admitted he is open to “a new challenge somewhere else”.
But Pogba has knuckled down during United’s pre-season tour and was in good spirits at an Adidas event held in Singapore’s Marina Bay on Sunday.
The World Cup winner clearly enjoyed himself and told the crowd that any aspiring footballers looking to reach the top should take a leaf out of Mata’s book – and the admiration is clearly mutual for a player the Spaniard would love to stay.
“We all know Paul and he’s a fantastic midfielder and he’s a very good guy, very positive, good influence for everyone,” Mata said.
“I think he’s happy, he brings everyone together. But I cannot speak for other people. I cannot speak for myself, for my present and my future in the club.
“And obviously as a team-mate, and as a friend also, I would like him to stay and to be happy because he is a very good player for us, but I cannot say much else.”
Pogba is not the only United player whose future is under scrutiny, but there is no doubt about where Mata’s future lies.
The 31-year-old was out of contract at the end of the 2018-19 season and talks over an extension had long been at an impasse, but a deal was struck to extend his stay until at least 2021.
“There were some options to go to a different club, but I said it before the feeling of being a Manchester United player is so unique,” Mata said.
“I am very happy to stay here. I am dreaming about winning big trophies at this club.
“I cannot wait to win a big trophy and celebrate with all the fans because they deserve it.
“I am very happy to extend my time in Manchester. I am very happy in the city, so it is all great and I am proud to be a player of this club.”
Upon renewing his contract, Mata said he wanted to turn the area back red after Manchester City’s recent dominance.
Reminded of that comment, he said: “Hopefully. We want that.
“This club has won more trophies than any other club in England. We want to win big trophies again.
“That is what the history of this club deserves. That is what the fans deserve.
“We know we have to improve. We know we have to do a better season than last season.
“But again, I extended my contract and I am very proud and happy to be here because I think we have very good people in the dressingroom, good people with the manager.
“We want to improve. We want to win. We are working towards that objective.”
There does appear to be a growing belief within United that they can get back to challenging for trophies in the coming years.
Nicky Butt has been named as United’s head of first-team development.
The 44-year-old was head of the club’s academy but will now report to Solskjærand will help “create a seamless journey for young players stepping up to the next level”.
Butt, who made 387 appearances for United, told the club’s official website: “Manchester United is in my DNA and this is a very proud moment for me as I take on this new role.
“I am passionate about nurturing, developing and coaching the talent we have here to become top players at this club.”
Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward believes the restructure will help United’s young stars make the step up to the first team.
He said: “These changes will further enhance the excellent work and results we have seen over many decades in our academy system and enable us to continue our proud traditions of producing world-class players capable of playing and excelling in the first team.”