The ITV pundit panel were left aghast at a colossal error committed by a Man Utd target who’s been tipped to oust one of their biggest stars in 2023.
Despite top scoring for the club with 24 goals last season, Man Utd’s Players’ Player of the Year award did not go to Cristiano Ronaldo.
That distinction went to goalkeeper David de Gea and was the fourth time the Spaniard has scooped the prestigious prize.
However, speculation quickly began to swirl De Gea’s time at Old Trafford is coming to an end once Erik ten Hag took charge.
The Dutchman is known to favour a more mobile goalkeeper who will adopt a higher starting position. That’ll then allow the defence and in turn the midfield to push higher up field and get closer to the forward line.
Ten Hag also wants his goalkeeper to be good in possession and with his distribution. For all his abilities with the gloves, De Gea has never been a natural with ball at feet.
What’s more, De Gea’s contract is due to expire in 2023. Manchester United do hold an option for an extra 12 months, though the writing may already be on the wall for the 32-year-old.
Varying potential replacements have been touted including Brighton’s Robert Sanchez and Portugal’s Diogo Costa. The latter plays for FC Porto and has been nothing short of sensational at club level this season.
He holds a release clause of around €75m (approx. £64.5m), something Fabrizio Romano reported hasn’t deterred United.
Costa got the nod to start for his country against Ghana in the World Cup on Thursday. Portugal led 3-2 in the final stages, though Costa almost gifted Ghana a last-gasp equaliser.
Diogo Costa fluffs his lines
Inaki Williams loitered on the goal line after an attack broke down. Costa had the ball in hands and rolled the ball out in front without having checked to see if any attackers were lurking in behind.
Mass panic ensued when Williams ran past Costa to gather the ball, though the Ghanaian slipped at the vital moment to ensure Portugal and Costa’s blushes were spared.
Predictably, an ITV pundit panel consisting of Joe Cole, Roy Keane and Graeme Souness took a scathing view of the error.
“That’s the cheekiest of things to do,” said Cole of Williams’ late gamble.
“Diogo Costa just doesn’t see him, but [Williams] slips at the vital moment.
“I’d be interested to see what [Costa’s] teammates say to him when he gets in the dressing room.”
Keane, Souness left shaking their heads
A bemused Souness asked: “I thought goalkeepers always looked over their shoulder?!”
“He’s very lucky,” added Keane. “We’ve seen the best and worst of Portugal tonight.”
Keane went on to note it was “clever” play from Williams, but dipped back in with another round of criticism for United target Costa.
He fumed: “Goalkeepers as we know… You have to be aware of your surroundings!
“You see most keepers at this stage just look over their shoulder. If not for the slip you’d never forgive him.”
Souness concluded: “He’s 23… he’ll never do that again.”
With Costa in the spotlight on the biggest stage, one can only assume his chances of securing a blockbuster move to Old Trafford have decreased somewhat.
While that may be bad news for him, it’ll certainly be met with a sigh of relief from De Gea.