CHICAGO — If the future of Manchester United goalkeeping truly rests in the hands of Spanish teenager David de Gea, get ready for a glimpse into what’s next for the Red Devils.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed Thursday that de Gea, the phenom signed less than a month ago in hopes of someday taking the reins for Dutch stalwart Edwin van der Sar, will make his first appearance with the club in Saturday’s Herbalife World Football Challenge matchup against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field (5 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
“He will start on Saturday,” Ferguson said. "He’s had a few days training, and he’s done fine."
Ferguson went on to praise the instincts of the 19-year-old de Gea, whose reputation thus far is carved from potential probably more than actual performance. He appeared in 57 league matches for Atlético Madrid in between his debut in 2009 and when Ferguson scooped him up late last month, and he was part of Spain’s Under-21 team that won the European Championship earlier this year.
He was also the man in net for Atlético’s triumph over American Clint Dempsey and Fulham in the 2010 Europa League final.
“Being young and coming into the English game … he may need time,” Ferguson said. “On the other hand, he may be like Petr Cech did at Chelsea and just take it by storm. [Cech] came in at 19 and coming into a Chelsea team, and he’s never been out of it.
“De Gea has the same qualities,” Ferguson added. “He’s got terrific composure for a young man. He’s quick and his use of the ball is excellent. Hopefully that shows itself when we get to the season.”
Englishman Ben Amos and Danish import Anders Lindegaard have split time thus far on Manchester United’s tour, and each played a half during the club’s win over the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday.