Betis do not want David de Gea. At least that is what the club have said after rumors emerged earlier this week that they were lining up the former Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper.
Perhaps it is not entirely surprising. They have two top goalkeepers in the highly rated Rui Silva and the hugely experienced Claudio Bravo.
The latter has just returned from an injury and the former is out for four weeks. But after the next international break, both will be fit and want to play; there is no room for a third senior goalkeeper.
What is perhaps more surprising than Betis not wanting De Gea is that so far – despite the fact he is a free agent – no one seems to want him.
The 32-year-old may not be past his prime. Silva and Bravo at Betis are 29 and 40 years old respectively. Goalkeepers peak later and play until they are older.
David De Gea was linked with a move to Real Betis, but the club has called it quits
The former United goalkeeper and his wife Edurne would like to stay in Spain
De Gea has been training alone in recent weeks as his search for a new club continues
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De Gea’s problems are twofold: the market is flooded with goalkeeping talent – at least for the clubs he wants to move to after 12 years at Manchester United.
And for many coaches, he is seen as a save-making goalkeeper who has not yet developed other facets of his game, such as the ability to do sweeper-keeping or help his defenders play from a high press.
The first problem was crucial to prevent his dream switch to Real Madrid. When they lost Thibaut Courtois to a cruciate ligament injury at the start of the season, they had to act quickly for a quality replacement and De Gea was the first name mentioned.
But it soon became clear that while he was being talked about all over social media, he wasn’t really being talked about at Real Madrid. Their attention turned to Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine ‘Bono’ Bonnou. He is Morocco’s No. 1 and Sevilla were in no position to turn down a £17 million bid.
Ultimately, Bono did not join because he would have to miss up to six weeks due to the Africa Cup of Nations, and because the opportunity arose to loan Kepa Arrizabalaga from Chelsea for a season.
Why Kepa and not De Gea? Because Madrid saw it as a choice between Spain’s number 2 and a goalkeeper who was no longer called up by Spain.
Bono did not stay at Sevilla, moving to Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League for £18 million. And Saudi Arabia seems like another option.
De Gea’s desire to settle back in his home country with Spanish woman Edurne Garcia has made this an option that will only be considered once other options have been fully exhausted.
Real Madrid opted for Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga instead of David de Gea
The Spaniard was close to joining a number of clubs, but a move has not yet materialized
He married his long-term partner in Menorca this summer and after such a long absence they feel they would rather settle back in Spain.
Al-Hilal were looking for a goalkeeper all summer and could certainly have matched the £375,000-a-week wages De Gea earned at Manchester United.
Ultimately, Bono was a good option for them, leaving De Gea open to LaLiga offers that have not come in yet.
Perceptions about him, no matter how unfair they are, don’t help. His final months at Manchester United should not have gone this way.
Had he played his career at Old Trafford, with the club giving him the kind of farewell justified by his service and longevity, it might have served as a reminder of what a goalkeeper he has been.
Instead, there was just uncertainty about his future, blunders in some of his final games and the general cloud of Erik ten Hag’s dwindling confidence in his ability to become the goalkeeper he felt he needed to be.
De Gea’s departure from the Spanish team was also unfavorable. His last game for them came two years ago next month, in a 1-0 defeat to Ukraine. The accusing finger was pointed in his direction for the goal he conceded.
Luis Enrique defended him after the match, saying: ‘Could he have done more? You can always do more, but blaming De Gea has become a national sport. He gives us so much. If we’re going to blame De Gea in a game like this, we might as well pack up and go home.”
Arsenal’s David Raya and Chelsea’s Robert Sanchez have been chosen ahead of De Gea for the Spanish national team in recent times
But despite his goalkeeper’s defense, when he picked his next team, Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon was in goal and quickly became number one.
And it wasn’t long before De Gea was dropped from the squad entirely, with Chelsea and Arsenal keepers Robert Sanchez and David Raya picked as numbers two and three instead.
Both are good with their feet – a quality demanded by many coaches who want their goalkeeper to be an extra man at the back during the team’s matches.
None of this still fully explains why one of Spain’s best goalkeepers of the past decade is without a club. Currently, he is almost in the position of an unemployment coach, waiting for a vacancy to arise.
Valencia will eventually cash in on 22-year-old Giorgi Mamardashvili and De Gea will be linked with them. But that will present another problem he will face as he tries to get back into football.
As one of LaLiga’s austere, cautious clubs, they will look to repeat the trick they pulled off with Mamardashvili: buying a young, relatively unknown player to make a profit on his sale.
De Gea will have to play the waiting game. And maybe look to a former international teammate for inspiration. Pepe Reina played 22 games for Villarreal last season, despite being 41 years old.