David de Gea was sold to Manchester United by Atlético Madrid in the summer of 2011 and has since become one of the most-sought after keepers in the world and has dislodged Iker Casillas to become Spain’s number one.
However, it could all have worked out very differently for De Gea when he was just 16 years old. Then largely unknown and playing in Atlético’s youth ranks, De Gea became an unlikely target for Juventus when the Italian club was relegated to Serie B in the wake of the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
Juve’s demotion led to several of the biggest names at the club – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram and Gianluca Zambrotta among them – seeking pastures new and the Juve board was concerned that Gianluigi Buffon may decide to follow suit. As a result, Juve drew up a list of Europe’s most promising young keepers as potential replacements, of which De Gea was at the top.
"De Gea was Juve's first option" to replace Buffon
“We made a list of replacements. The first option for Juventus was David de Gea, even though he was still very young and the tradition in this country is that the keeper should be Italian,” Michael Rampulla, a member of Juve’s technical staff at the time, told La Gazzetta dello Sport in a recent interview.
Buffon eventually decided to remain at Juve, “proving what a great person he is,” added Rampulla, leaving De Gea to emerge through the ranks at Atlético.
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