Sport Soccer

Saturday 24 March 2018

Fergie insists youth no barrier for De Gea

Mark Ogden

ALEX FERGUSON has dismissed concerns over the inexperience of Manchester United's 20-year-old summer recruit, David de Gea, by claiming the Spanish goalkeeper can emulate Chelsea's Petr Cech in the Premier League.

De Gea, who signed for £18.3m from Atletico Madrid, is due to link up with his new team-mates in Seattle this weekend after being signed to replace Edwin van der Sar. De Gea has yet to make his senior debut for Spain after just two years in the first team with Atletico.

However, Ferguson, who intends to give him his United debut against Seattle Sounders on Wednesday, believes Cech's success at Chelsea, after arriving as a 22-year-old, justifies his faith in De Gea to prove the right successor to Van der Sar.

"I went to see Petr Cech when he was at Rennes," Ferguson recalled. "He was 19 at the time and I said to myself, 'yeah, he's too young'. But Chelsea bought him not long afterwards for £7m or something and he's never been out of the team.

"So youth/age doesn't matter when you have the ability of a goalkeeper like Petr Cech, or we know David de Gea has. He's young, he's quick and he has fantastic presence and composure. His use of the ball is outstanding. So all of these plus points are things that don't go away. He's got these natural things."

De Gea is to be given a personalised training programme by United to help him add bulk to his slender frame ahead of his first campaign in England.

New signing Ashley Young made his first appearance for United in yesterday's 4-1 victory against New England Revolution, courtesy of goals from Michael Owen, Federico Macheda (2) and Ji-sung Park.

Ferguson said: "We've seen only Ashley at the moment -- he's been with us here from day one. De Gea joins us in Seattle, along with Phil Jones, so it'll be good to get them involved right away as we're not too far away from the start of the season, so we've got a bit of work to do there.

"They are the future of the club, there's no question. With the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, we've got the three best centre-backs in England -- young ones."

Meanwhile, former World Cup-winner Patrick Vieira, who announced his retirement as a player yesterday, is to take up a newly created role off the pitch with Manchester City.

The 35-year-old Frenchman has accepted the position of football development executive and will help in the nurturing of young players among other responsibilities. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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