A report from the Telegraph credited United as one of three Premier League teams keeping tabs on the Spaniard&aposs situation, alongside Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. Raya&aposs contract with the Bees runs out in 2024, and there is a growing expectancy that Thomas Frank&aposs side will sell this summer to avoid losing their keeper for free 12 months down the line.
Current No.1 De Gea sent a clear message to any doubters with a sterling performance in Wednesday night&aposs 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, producing a number of excellent saves and distributing the ball with confidence before Michael Olise&aposs unstoppable free-kick. The 32-year-old is in the final six months of his contract but those around M16 hope a new deal can be agreed upon, even if with reduced wages.
That would make Raya his successor, rather than replacement, should United decide to move for the goalkeeper. The Brentford shot-stopper was picked ahead of his compatriot for Luis Enrique&aposs World Cup squad, and has been hugely impressive down in West London this season, but De Gea proved once again at Selhurst Park why he is so valued and his passing has certainly improved – a crucial aspect of Ten Hag&aposs style.
On the ball, however, the Dutchman will be hard-pressed to find many in the Premier League better than Raya, and the 27-year-old&aposs calmness and quality in possession will no doubt be of interest to those around Old Trafford. Speaking in an interview with The Telegraph the week of Brentford&aposs 4-0 thumping of United back in August, the 27-year-old detailed the work behind his outstanding distribution.
“That concrete pitch was two minutes from my house,” Raya said of a Futsal pitch in his hometown. “I used to play in any position except under the goal. I liked to touch the ball a lot, to be part of every play. I guess that&aposs where the skill I have with my feet comes from and in modern football that is what is demanded of a goalkeeper.
“I&aposve been working on coming out from the back since I was a child but now I&aposm trying to perfect it. I do rondos, things like that. It forces me to be cold-blooded and to have a lot of confidence in myself.
“You&aposre always exposed to making a mistake, but I have to be calm enough not to get down when that happens. I know that this ability with my feet is something that sets me apart and I repeat to myself that I have to learn to forget the bad moments.”
That nightmare at the Gtech Community Stadium saw De Gea crumble when tasked with delivering Ten Hag&aposs style of play. The United veteran first let Josh DaSilva&aposs weak shot dribble through his hands before landing Christian Eriksen in hot water with a woefully dangerous pass for the second goal.
Ten Hag made a conscious decision not long after that defeat to ease the demands on his goalkeeper, but the Dutchman will likely be looking for ways to reintegrate his playing from-the-back style in the foreseeable future – a desire that has may well have pointed him to Raya.
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