For all the mediocrity of his record as Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made some big calls.

He has shown the door to Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, for a start.

He saw them as underperforming big-name, big-earning players who did not fit his vision and philosophy and wanted them out.

That is how it should be.

Yet he continues to show faith in the one big-name player who has been as below par as anyone in a United jersey over the second half of last season and the beginning of this one.

David de Gea will be in goal against Leicester on Saturday, almost certainly.

Solskjaer may have another big call to make on De Gea

But the numbers inside Old Trafford who will have complete trust in him must be dwindling by the match.

In the last game there – a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace courtesy of a Patrick van Aanholt shot that should have been dealt with comfortably – he cost his side a point.

It was the sort of error that has pockmarked his performances in 2019 and for a portion of 2018.

Yet still the contract saga drags on and on and on.

Even by football’s tortuous standards, it must be one of the longest examples in recent history.

De Gea’s contract situation remains unsolved

Only a couple of days ago, there were stories suggesting the pen was poised. But nothing.

Imagine you were a new convert to watching the Premier League over the past 12 months or so.

And imagine being told the goalkeeper who has made a string of mistakes at home and abroad was stalling on a new £350,000-a-week contract.

Even in the context of the game’s mind-boggling finances, they are staggering figures for a keeper who is now not even first choice for his national team.

While De Gea played for Spain in the 4-0 win against the Faroe Islands on Sunday, Chelsea’s Kepa is the preferred option, having excelled in the previous match in Romania.

Solskjaer has not been afraid to wield the axe at Old Trafford

Over the eight completed seasons he has been at Old Trafford, De Gea has been mainly magnificent.

But the mistakes such as the one against Palace have become a sort of norm rather than rare lapses. They no longer surprise.

And it is impossible not to link his uncertainty on the field with the uncertainty off it.

Solskjaer, it seems, keeps out of the negotiations – they are between De Gea and his agents and the United moneymen.

Yet if a key member of your side – on average, your best player over the past eight years – will not commit his future to the club, how can it not be a manager’s problem?

Solskjaer has an excellent alternative in Romero

De Gea is quite within his rights to either hold out for a better deal or, more likely, run his current contract down so he can become a free agent.

Or sign the offer on the table in the next hour, day, week, or month.

But Solskjaer, who has an excellent alternative in Sergio Romero (long-term, Dean Henderson could be a successor) is entitled to tell De Gea that while the uncertainty continues, his place in the starting line-up is not guaranteed.

And if this rumbles on, Solskjaer should be in the market for a new keeper come January.

Because if De Gea’s form follows the pattern it did in the second half of last season and the manager keeps faith, it will probably be Solskjaer who leaves before his keeper.



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