Pitchside

The surprise name who will be key to Man Utd’s system this season

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Squawka identify a surprising name who could well be key to Louis van Gaal's system at Manchester United...

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Manchester United’s new manager Louis van Gaal is preparing an overhaul of the current squad and there will be a number of players offloaded this summer.

While the futures of Nani, Anderson, Ashley Young and Javier Hernandez all remain in the balance, there is one man who could be key to the Dutchman's new system at Old Trafford: David De Gea.

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The former Atletico Madrid star has gone from a much-maligned individual in the United side to a player now regarded as one of the most indispensable members of the team.

De Gea initially struggled for form following his £18 million arrival in 2011, though was the stand-out player in a term that suffered from a number of high-profile errors across the squad last season.

His form has attracted attention from elsewhere and his girlfriend has not helped the situation by pleading for him to leave the Premier League. However he will put and is certainly crucial in the new-look system United are utilising.

Van Gaal's system encourages his side to play the ball on the floor and this was evident in the way they operated against Liverpool during the final of the International Champions Cup. A deployment of three centre-backs - Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans - meant De Gea had plenty of options, along with the bombarding full-backs.

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More than a dozen times, the Red Devils struggled with Liverpool's high intensity pressing game in Miami, having to turn and play it back to De Gea. The Spaniard is as good as anyone with the ball at his feet, like his compatriots in the national side, and his distribution was second to none against the Reds.

His 62% distribution accuracy last season in the league put him seventh on the list of goalkeepers to have featured in 20 games or more. However, De Gea's average length of pass is significantly higher than most of the shot-stoppers ahead of him. Playing out from the back, within Van Gaal's philosophy, would most probably see this average length drop and cause De Gea's distribution rate to improve.

The ability to pick out a man is key in United's system and as the centre-backs open up, that will provide the Spain international with the chance to spray passes out to his galloping full-backs.

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No less than 99% of his throw-outs last term found his man, which outlines just how capable he is both with his feet and his hands. The agile goalkeeper also proved from goal kicks that he has what it takes to find a team-mate more times than not: 56% of his goal kicks found a Manchester United player.

A philosophy which involves pressing and squeezing opponents up the pitch, as well as constantly passing and organising space on the field until gaps slowly open up in the opposition defence, seems like it is a structure De Gea could thrive within.

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