Goalkeeper David de Gea announces he is leaving Manchester United after 12 seasons

MANCHESTER, July 8: Veteran goalkeeper David de Gea has announced he is leaving Manchester United as a free agent after 12 seasons at Old Trafford.

The 32-year-old’s contract with United expired at the end of June, with no new deal agreed despite talks that took place throughout the season.

De Gea joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and made 545 appearances for the Premier League club which included 190 clean sheets — both club records for a keeper.

In a message on social media on Saturday, De Gea thanked United fans for their support but said: “Now, it’s the right time to undertake a new challenge, to push myself again in new surroundings.” On its website, United said “Thank you David” and called him a “record breaker.”

It said De Gea “secured an array of trophies and personal accolades to cement his place as one of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of the club.” When De Gea’s contract expired last Friday, United said they remained in talks with the Spain goalkeeper who won the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and two League Cups with the club. That followed reports that De Gea had signed a contract extension only for the club to withdraw that offer and come back with reduced terms.

United has been linked with a move for Inter Milan keeper Andre Onana. “I would like to express my unwavering gratitude and appreciation for the love from the last 12 years,” De Gea wrote. “We’ve achieved a lot since my dear Sir Alex Ferguson brought me to this club.”

He added: “Manchester will always be in my heart, Manchester has shaped me and will never leave me. We’ve seen it all.” United manager Erik ten Hag paid tribute to the departing De Gea, who won the Premier League’s golden glove last season.

“It takes great quality and character to reach the level of even playing one game for Manchester United,” Ten Hag said. “To do it 545 times over 12 years is a special achievement, particularly in the goalkeeping position where every game puts you in the spotlight.

“To have won Player of the Year awards from both the fans and his teammates, each on four occasions, shows the level of his performance and he will always be remembered as one of the very best goalkeepers in the history of the club.” (AP)