393 matches, one Premier League triumph, one FA Cup and one Carabao Cup success after signing from Atletico Madrid, it's time for Manchester United to finally bid farewell to David de Gea.
It's easy to see that claim as a knee-jerk reaction to his howler at Goodison Park, but the truth is the writing has been on the wall for a while.
With the freedom of Merseyside and enough time to indulge in a brief siesta, how that ended with Dominic Calvert-Lewin peeling off to celebrate Everton's opener is a question only the Spaniard can answer.
Sums up the United season tbh. Some strives forward, more steps back and something embarrassing to continue the circle. pic.twitter.com/mcAbAyvVPh— 90min (@90min_Football) March 1, 2020
He got down low to make a smart save from Calvert-Lewin shortly after, but there is no hiding from the fact that mistakes have become a regular occurrence in his performances. It's happening far too often, and it's cost United dearly.
No player has made more errors leading directly to goals in the Premier League since the start of last season than De Gea's seven, and his once world-class ability has been diminishing gradually throughout the latter years of his Old Trafford stay.
Having been universally considered one of the finest goalkeepers in world football, his influence is starting to show in all the wrong ways.
Just across the Pennines, though, is a 22-year-old Englishman whose stock has risen exponentially over the last two seasons. Dean Henderson has been playing so well for Sheffield United this term, and there are strong calls for him to be Gareth Southgate's number one stopper when England embark on their European Championship campaign.
It's not like United will need to sign a replacement for the Spaniard with Henderson already on the books at the club, and when his loan at Bramall Lane finishes in the summer he should be welcomed back at Old Trafford with open arms.
He's kept nine clean sheets in his maiden top flight season, impressing in every facet of his game; from shot stopping, to delivery, to claiming crosses, he's looked in top form. If the question was asked right now over who you'd rather have in your team, the results would likely be split.
De Gea boasts longevity and experience over his soon-to-be teammate, but just as his ability wanes, his successor improves with each week. Nobody is perfect, though, and as we saw during the Blades' loss to Liverpool earlier in the season, Henderson is also capable of making a mistake.
The difference is how he responded to that.
The Spaniard has dropped a few clangers this season - his one away at Watford is particularly notable - but where that could have been used as a springboard for improvement, it's been a diving board for deterioration.
7 - David De Gea has made seven errors leading directly to an opposition goal in the Premier League since the start of last season, the joint-most alongside Martin Dubravka and Bernd Leno. Shocker. pic.twitter.com/WNoCTxhxds— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 1, 2020
Henderson, on the other hand, has taken the criticism he garnered from mistakes to earn raves reviews, easily placing himself in among the top five goalkeepers in the league.
We're looking at a player who undoubtedly still has quality in his locker. De Gea is still a top-drawer keeper. But he isn't anywhere near the echelon he once was in and his decline has been both gradual and comprehensive.
Looking at Sunday's match, United weren't at their best, but if De Gea doesn't make that mistake early on, we could be talking about three valuable points that could have put them within a point of Chelsea in fourth.
He's been one of their best ever, no doubt, but it's about time that decisions are made in the United camp that have an eye on the future. Few will be able to sign him, that's for sure, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to act. De Gea can't be the starting goalkeeper anymore.
Source : 90min