Spain manager Luis Enrique has left out Manchester United goalkeeper and long-term servant of La Furia Roja, David De Gea, out of his 55-man provisional squad list for the 2022 FIFA World Cup which begins in under a month.
The list without De Gear's name came as a shock to many, including detractors of the United shot-stopper. This is because the former Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper has fought his way back to relevancy after a long run of poor form in between the sticks for United, where he is currently the longest serving player.
It is even more surprising as the list contains five goalkeepers, three of which will make the final squad list of 26, which FIFA has approved due to the unique nature of this edition of the global showpiece. Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, Brentford’s David Raya, Brighton’s Robert Sanchez, Athletic Club Bilbao's Unai Simon and Getafe's David Soria are the goalkeepers chosen ahead of him.
De Gea, who has participated in the 2014 and 2018 World Cup editions lost his place after racking up 45 caps in the side. This is due to his poor form and Enrique's preference for goalkeepers who are good on the ball, something the former Real Madrid target is notoriously poor at.
Enrique had already hinted at this possibility back in June. “I look to have three starting goalkeepers and I think that right now I have them," the former Barcelona manager said. “Honestly. I wouldn’t have an issue with any of the three of them starting.
“Unai has accumulated some interesting experience. A goalkeeper should start the play and generate the first superiority, they must dominate the aerial play.
“I need a goalkeeper that transmits peace and calmness to me, that doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes, errors are part of football. What they generate I like a lot.”
"They're trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football. I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe and secure World Cup."
The signs are not looking good for De Gea, 31, who is in the final 12 months of his Manchester United contract. There are yet to be talks about his renewal or news about where his future may lie.
His international career might be over, as Spain and Luis Enrique may be a pairing for years to come. De Gea also has limited time to prove that he can still play at the top level, with his form still stuttering in club football despite being more stable than it used to be compared to two seasons ago.