Goalkeeper Tom Heaton is hoping to challenge for the number one position when he returns to former club Manchester United, with one of David de Gea or Dean Henderson expected to leave Old Trafford in a shakeup this summer.
Neither De Gea nor Henderson will be satisfied being a backup next season and largely shared goalkeeping duties throughout 2020/21, with the veteran Spaniard playing 36 times and the emerging Englishman getting the nod for 26 games.
One of them is likely to leave ahead of next season, although it still remains unclear which. Meanwhile, Heaton seemingly has the intention of sneaking in himself.
The 35-year-old, who spent eight years on the books at Old Trafford from the age of 16 before finally securing permanent opportunities elsewhere, will sign a contract until 2023.
Most would expect him to fill in as a dependable backup, with Sergio Romero definitely leaving and doubts over whether 38-year-old Lee Grant will get a new contract. But Sky Sports reports that Heaton has greater ambitions, telling friends that he will ‘push hard’ to become first choice.
The intent is admirable as he never had that chance during his first spell at the club – he never even made a first-team appearance – even if the reality will make it unlikely.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer just about got away with juggling De Gea and Henderson this season but that seems as though it is no longer going to be possible. One will have to be sold to make suitable room for the other, although the other option is to sell both and bring in someone new, such as Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is available on a free transfer this summer, or Jan Oblak.
Henderson’s lack of patience is no secret but whether he is ready to be a starting goalkeeper at a club with elite ambitions remains to be seen. De Gea, meanwhile, hasn’t looked his best for at least three years, despite previously carrying United under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.