After the most testing period of his career culminated in a nightmare start to life under Erik ten Hag, De Gea was close to recapturing his best form prior to the break for the World Cup.
The 32-year-old has made an admirable effort to comply with Ten Hag’s desired style of play, having been chastised by the Dutchman in pre-season for showing a reluctance to play out from the back.
De Gea subsequently struggled during the back-to-back defeats against Brighton and Brentford in August, but played an increasingly influential role in recent months as United plotted their way back up the Premier League table.
The former Atletico Madrid star reached a significant milestone in November when he made his 500th appearance for the club and United are keen for him to stay, albeit on reduced terms.
De Gea’s current £375,000-a-week deal expires in the summer and the club have taken a calculated gamble by opting against triggering an automatic 12-month extension.
While United have bought themselves negotiating time with Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Digo Dalot and Fred, whose deals were extended on Tuesday, their long-serving No.1 is, at present, free to negotiate with interested European clubs come January.
With that in mind, United are, according to The Athletic, eyeing potential long-term successors with two goakeepers who struggled in Qatar on Ten Hag’s watchlist.
Unai Simon has been watched by United scouts recently but he did little to impress in Qatar having been badly at fault in the defeat against Japan which led Gary Neville to question why De Gea had been overlooked by Spain’s now former manager Luis Enrique.
United are also keeping tabs on Porto’s highly-rated Diogo Costa but also failed to distinguish himself for Portugal, almost costing his side victory against Ghana before making the error for the only goal in the quarter-final defeat against Morocco.
Dean Henderson, meanwhile, is spending the season on loan at Nottingham Forest and although United continue to monitor his progress, it is unlikely he will make a renewed challenge to succeed De Gea as United’s No.1.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.