It was only eight months ago that Spanish stopper David De Gea was being branded an instant flop.
The 21-year-old had built a big reputation in his homeland, breaking into the Atletico Madrid side as a teenager and spending two seasons as the club’s first choice.
And, after helping his country’s U21s to European Championship glory in the summer of 2011, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson spent big to bring the player to Old Trafford.
In need of a replacement for retiring Dutch international Edwin Van der Sar, the Red Devils were linked with a handful of stoppers before adding De Gea in a reported £17.8 million move.
However, his first competitive performances for United were far from inspiring. A long-range Edin Dzeko strike evaded the youngster in the Community Shield at Wembley, before a Shane Long dribbler slipped through his grast against West Brom on the opening day of the season.
The spotlight continued to shine on the Spaniard, as goals from Arsenal and Chelsea – albeit in United victories – raised more questions about De Gea’s ability.
His situation was also not helped by the form of Anders Lindegaard. The Manchester United No.2 enjoyed a stunning run of form when called upon, and didn’t concede a goal in the league when called upon until the defeat to Newcastle on January 4th.
The Dane was preferred on a number of occasions as Ferguson looked to take the spotlight away from De Gea, but an ankle injury picked up at the end of January proved to be a major turning point.