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Old Erik ten Hag enquiry proves Dean Henderson missed perfect chance to be Manchester United No. 1



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Credit: IMAGO / Sportimage

Dean Henderson may have missed a perfect chance to become Manchester United’s No. 1 goalkeeper ahead of David de Gea last season.

A few seasons ago, it seemed inevitable that Dean Henderson would eventually overtake David de Gea as Manchester United‘s first-choice goalkeeper under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

With De Gea on maternity leave, Henderson took over goalkeeping duties during the opening months of 2021 and performed admirably – but a bout of long COVID kept him out of both the Manchester United and England EURO 2020 squads, and he ultimately lost his place.

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Erik ten Hag has had a long-standing interest in Dean Henderson, having enquired twice about his availability on loan during his stint at Ajax.

The Dutch club first made contact over Henderson’s availability ahead of the 2020/21 season, although the Englishman ultimately stayed at United for that season. Ten Hag also asked once again the following season, ahead of the 2022 January transfer window while Ralf Rangnick was in charge, but to no avail.

Henderson would go on to play just one fixture under the German interim manager.

When Ten Hag was announced as the new Manchester United manager in May 2022, Dean Henderson left the club on loan before the Dutchman could even take his first training session.

“I didn’t really want the manager (Ten Hag) to come in and see me in training because I knew that he’d probably want to keep me so I tried to do it all before I left for the season,” he told talkSPORT in August 2022.

“I told the hierarchy that I need to be playing football, I don’t want to be here and play second fiddle, it was planned out. I was almost gone before the manager came through the door. I have not spoken to him since.”

Considering the fact that Erik ten Hag wanted Henderson at Ajax on multiple occasions, once even to replace André Onana, Henderson may have got his ultimate dream – to be Manchester United’s No. 1 goalkeeper – had he stayed.

Fast forward one year later, and Erik ten Hag is looking to sell Henderson while bringing in Onana as the club’s new first-choice goalkeeper.

Had Henderson not made such as rash decision one year ago, he may well have ended up having been United’s first-choice keeper for the coming decade.