The Red Devils have played the last few seasons without a leader on the pitch despite the captain’s armband being with England defender Harry Maguire.
The burden of the armband seems to have affected the 29-year-old since he received it six months into his Manchester United career. His performances started to take a nosedive when he got saddled with the responsibility of being the team’s on-pitch leader.
However, it got worse after England’s unfortunate outing at Euro 2020 which saw them lose the final to Italy on penalties.
Some players have also been reported to be disenfranchised with Maguire’s captaincy with many reports stating that there was some infighting in the squad. Fans have also long called for Maguire to be stripped of the captaincy.
Their request is now on its way to being fulfilled following the appointment of Erik ten Hag as manager whose first major squad change is to decide on a new captain.
The Dutch manager reportedly asked the squad to choose their new captain and De Gea, one of the longest serving members of the squad, is the popular decision.
It is understood that stripping the captaincy off Maguire is not a move to diminish his role on the team but to have the most popular member of the squad represent the team.
By definition, there is none more popular than Cristiano Ronaldo in football as a whole but De Gea’s longevity in the squad was the deciding factor for the team members who chose him as their next leader over five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo.
De Gea, meanwhile, has an improved form to thank for his rise to captaincy after an underwhelming 2020/21 season where he played second fiddle to United academy graduate Dean Henderson.
After playing every game in the 2021/22 season – his 11th season at the club – in which he won the Premier League player of the month in January, he won the Players’ Player of the Year award at the club.
He is on course to making 500 appearances for the Red Devils next season and is one of three players – alongside Ronaldo and Phil Jones – to have won the Premier League with United, having kept goal in their title-winning 2012/13 season.
His appointment is not official, however, as ten Hag continues to make changes to the squad. Alongside Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay are candidates to replace Maguire as captain.