Manchester United nearly never got the chance to sign David de Gea, as he came ‘very, very close’ to signing for another Premier League team.
Despite the occasional dodgy moment, there’s very little doubt that more often than not in the past 11 years, United would have been in a worse position without De Gea.
That was mostly in evidence between 2013 and 2018, when the Spanish shot stopper won the clubs’ Player of the Year award on four out of five occasions, including three in a row.
Obviously everyone remembers his failed moved to Real Madrid, thanks to a dodgy fax machine, but he may have never even had the chance to shine at Old Trafford.
That’s because 18 months before Sir Alex Ferguson signed him, in the summer of 2011, he had the chance to sign for another team in England.
“I was in Atletico and it was the same season I made my debut and I was like the third keeper and not even count for the team much, just training,” he told BT Sport’s ‘What I Wore,’ “Nothing else.
“So Wigan got in contact with me just to sign for them and I was very, very close to sign for Wigan.”
The 2009/10 season was Wigan Athletic’s fifth in the top tier, after their shock promotion from the Championship, after finishing second in the 2004/05 season.
Roberto Martinez took them to 16th that season, with Chris Kirkland and Mike Pollitt playing in goal for the Latics during the campaign.
At that point, Ferguson wouldn’t have been thinking about signing a teenage goalkeeper to his team, with the extremely experienced Edwin van der Sar still in goal.
The Dutchman helped the club to second in the table, and a win in the League Cup, although that was a generally poor return for the Red Devils at the time.
The following year, Van der Sar retired, following the Champions League final loss to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, at Wembley, and Fergie needed a new number one.
He signed De Gea for £18.9 million, however early struggles meant he actually had to fight Anders Lindegaard to be the number one at the club.
His problems returned at the beginning of the season, and he was blamed for a couple of the goals in the game against Brentford, as United struggled to adapt to Erik ten Hag’s style of football.
De Gea’s form has improved since and the 31-year-old has kept clean sheets against Southampton, Leicester City and Sheriff in recent weeks, as well as playing a pivotal part in wins against Liverpool and Arsenal.