Collymore’s column: Man United signing is real deal, Unai Emery gunning for European trophy and why Dean Henderson should push for Old Trafford exit

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In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including the summer’s inevitable goalkeeper merry-go-round, Rasmus Hojlund’s impending move to Man United and how far Aston Villa can go in next season’s Europa Conference League, plus much more.


Rasmus Hojlund may need time but he’s the real deal…

He may well be the next Michael Owen or Robbie Fowler, you know, the young, baby-faced, clinical striker that could score goals in the Premier League for fun, but if he does have an underwhelming opening season, Manchester United fans must not panic and get on his back. I don’t think they will, the club’s fanbase are notoriously loyal and patient with their players, and it’s really important they stick to that with Hojlund.

Make no mistake, this kid is the real deal. He’s going to be a superstar. I love his instinct inside the box, he’s an old-fashioned striker and that isn’t something we see very much of nowadays so the thought of him in the Premier League excites me.

When you look around the European leagues, there aren’t loads of outright, instinctive goalscorers. Football isn’t blessed with them anymore, so back in the day United could afford to take a punt on a young Ole Gunnar Solskjaer because if it didn’t work out, it wouldn’t matter because they had Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Dwight Yorke ready and waiting in the wings. They can’t do that anymore; not many clubs can.

So yes, they’ve taken a punt, an expensive one at that, on a young striker who may live up to expectations and may fulfil his potential, but they’ve had very little choice. So my advice to the fans is to sit tight, give the lad plenty of time and watch him develop because he’s a player who could become their main hitman for the next 10 or so years, and if that were to happen, no one will be talking about the £72 million fee they’re about to pay Atalanta.

Dean Henderson should push for Manchester United exit…

If I was Nottingham Forest, I would sign Dean Henderson ahead of Matt Turner.

He has more experience and has been around senior England squads. He also knows what it’s like to be fighting to be Manchester United’s number one, and that shows top-level determination and wealth of confidence.

With that being said though, if Henderson has any sort of ambition whatsoever, he will push to leave Manchester United this summer with the aim of becoming Forest’s outright number one.

David De Gea too good for Saudi Arabia…

The end of David De Gea’s time at Manchester United was really sad to see. I am not sure United handled the situation as well as they could have done.

De Gea will go down as one of the club’s all-time legends. I’m not saying he’s their greatest-ever goalkeeper, I actually don’t think the Spaniard comes anywhere close to Peter Schmeichel and Edwin Van Der Sar, but in terms of longevity, he’s certainly up there with their very best, so to see him part ways after 12 years the way he did wasn’t a good look for the Red Devils.

Anyway, no one can change the past and De Gea is now a free agent and on the lookout for a new club in time for next season. I know there has been some talk of Bayern Munich being interested, but that seems to have cooled recently, so I think if I were him, I would prioritise a move back to Spain. A club like Villarreal would be great for him – a great way of life at a progressive club where the expectation is high, but you’re not constantly under a microscope like you are at Old Trafford.

If he wants to stay in the Premier League, I would like Unai Emery to consider him. Emi Martinez’s Aston Villa future is far from assured, so if he does leave, Emery, who is obviously a compatriot of De Gea and a person the former United number will know well, may look at the situation and think the 32-year-old is a suitable replacement.

I would hate to see him move to the Saudi Pro League though; I think he still has too much to offer top European football to consider a move to Saudi Arabia just yet. However, if a Saudi club comes in and blows all other clubs out the water with a huge salary offer then I think it’s inevitable he’ll follow the others and go and play over there for a few seasons before eventually retiring.

David Raya could be Arsenal’s most impactful player…

I really like the thought of Arsenal signing Brentford’s David Raya. I have been really critical of the Gunners under Mikel Arteta before but this is a decision I really like.

Aaron Ramsdale did really well last season, especially during the first half of the campaign, but you never want your keeper to become too comfortable in that position. You always want to keep them on their toes and provide as much quality competition as you can, and there is no doubt that Raya would do exactly that.

I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the Spaniard went to Arsenal, kept Ramsdale out of the team and then, in a year’s time, we are talking about the Englishman facing an uncertain future at the Emirates.

Declan Rice, after signing from West Ham earlier in the window, will add a lot to Arsenal, but will he make them automatic title contenders? – No, not in my opinion. And, although I can’t say Raya will, I do believe the Brentford keeper will have a greater overall impact than the £105 million midfielder.

In Unai Emery we trust…

I spoke about Emery briefly earlier while talking about De Gea’s future but I wanted to finish off by mentioning him again.

He’s gunning for a European trophy and, with the exception of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, I genuinely don’t believe there is a more qualified manager out there to lead Villa to their first European title since 1982 than Emery. Having won the Europa League four times with Sevilla, it’s obvious that the man is made for the European stage.

The players he has bought in look like really good signings too. He’s a great man-manager and appears to have the whole squad gelling well together. The cream always rises to the top. Emery is the exact opposite of Steven Gerrard; a manager who talks the talk but is now managing in Saudi Arabia – I rest my case.

In fact, I rate Emery so highly that I’ll let everyone into a little secret, I have already booked my accommodation in Athens for the weekend of the Europa Conference League final. That’s how confident I am that Emery will take Aston Villa the whole way.

More Stories David de Gea David Raya Dean Henderson Matt Turner Rasmus Hojlund Stan Collymore Unai Emery