David de Gea is an exceptionally talented

Signed by Manchester United in summer 2011, de Gea, at just 20 years of age, is expected to be the Reds’ long-term replacement for Edwin van der Sar.

A Spain Under-21 international (and European Championship winner), de Gea was born in Madrid in 1990 and is a product of Atletico Madrid’s youth academy.

Tall, athletic and confident with the ball at his feet, de Gea progressed through Atleti’s youth ranks quickly and spent his first professional season (2008/09) with the club’s reserves in

Segunda Division B. A first-team debut arrived early in the following season when he made his senior bow as a substitute against FC Porto in the Champions League.

He retained his spot, became a regular between the posts and his dream first campaign was capped with success in the Europa League as de Gea played a major role in delivering Atletico’s first major European trophy in almost 50 years.

De Gea’s reputation was enhanced in his second full season in La Liga and rumours of United’s interest, which had existed since January 2010, gathered pace in September when Reds goalkeeper coach Eric Steele was spotted in Spain scouting the young stopper.

By the end of the 2010/11 season, de Gea was touted by many media outlets as Sir Alex Ferguson’s top choice to replace Edwin van der Sar, although negotiations with the 20-year-old were put on hold while he helped Spain win UEFA’s Under-21 European Championships in Denmark.

Despite his age and relative inexperience (he joins United after just two full seasons of senior football),  de Gea comes highly regarded and full of potential. As Edwin van der Sar showed, goalkeepers can play at the highest level until they reach 40. In that case, United fans could

be signing de Gea’s name (pronounced “de hayer”, by the way) for the next 20 years.

It's a proposition the youngster would seemingly relish. "I feel very proud and I can't wait to start playing here," he told MUTV in his first interview as a United player. "When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you it obviously makes you very, very happy."