- David de Gea made his first competitive appearance of the season for Manchester United against Liverpool on Saturday
- Louis van Gaal selected the goalkeeper for the 3-1 victory after De Gea signed a new contract at United this week
- The Spaniard was expected to join Real Madrid this summer before negotiations broke down towards the end of the transfer window
Joe Bernstein for MailOnline
12:16 EST, 12 September 2015
20:52 EST, 12 September 2015
Manchester United have put themselves in the position of spending £350,000-a-week in wages on four different goalkeepers. But the £40million contract handed to David de Gea on Friday underlined his status as undisputed No 1.
Predictably, De Gea was recalled to the starting line-up on Saturday to face Liverpool after spending the first part of the season in exile amidst interest from Real Madrid.
The fans’ reaction was clear. When the 24-year-old Spaniard came out to do his first warm-up 45 minutes before kick off, he received a warm ovation from those in United red and he applauded them in return. The noise when his name was read over the tannoy closer to 5.30pm was ear-splitting and favourable.
A young Manchester United fan holds up a sign thanking David de Gea for signing a new contract
After a long-running transfer saga this summer, De Gea has now elected to stay at United
The Spanish goalkeeper applauds the United home fans on his return to Louis van Gaal’s team
De Gea pumps his fists in celebration after Daley Blind’s strike finds the back of Liverpool’s net
The 24-year-old turns towards the United fans behind his goal to celebrate the Dutchman’s goal
If his new four-year contract is a publicity stunt – and there is every chance he could still move to the Bernabeu next season with a £25million release clause inserted – it’s obviously worked on the United faithful.
‘We all know that David loves this club,’ wrote manager Louis van Gaal in his programme notes.
Such was United’s control, De Gea didn’t have the chance to make an early attention-grabbing save to celebrate his return. In fact, he only touched the ball four times in the entire first-half, all to make clearances after Michael Carrick and Co had passed the ball back.
There were ironic cheers from United’s fans when he finally plucked the ball out of the air after 56 minutes – the first time he’d had to use his hands.
Moments later, he could have been red-faced when a poor clearance put his side in trouble. Keen to make amends he then denied Liverpool an equaliser with a flying dive to his left to keep out Danny Ings’ half-volley – the moment he proved he will be a huge asset for the rest of the season.
De Gea said on Friday this would be the ‘perfect fixture’ in which to return. He was right – few teams will give him quieter afternoons than Liverpool did despite Christian Benteke’s late consolation with a spectacular overhead kick
He enjoyed returning ‘home’ and the Stretford End were happy to play the part of his welcoming family. But it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be in Spain this time next year.
De Gea looks on as a shot from Liverpool striker Christian Benteke (left) goes wide of his post
De Gea gives a thumbs up to a team-mate during the first half vs Liverpool, in which he had little to do
De Gea puts his hands to his mouth (left) and chats to Sergio Romero (right) before kick-off
The keeper shakes hands with Van Gaal after the final whistle, with United beating Liverpool 3-1