Exclusive - Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson has been told by Gareth Southgate that he would be England number one by now if was playing regular games at club level, which could pave the way for another loan move away from Old Trafford in January.
Henderson emerged as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League last season during a second successful loan at Sheffield United. His rise has also coincided with current England number one Jordan Pickford suffering a sustained loss of form.
Henderson has been a permanent feature of every England squad since October 2019, but it was only this week that Southgate, who is a huge fan of the player, handed the 23-year-old a senior debut in the friendly against Republic of Ireland.
Henderson wanted another loan move this season and it has been no secret that the ambitious talent is keen to be playing regular football. United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ultimately persuaded him to stay and the club agreed a lucrative new long-term contract to underline their faith, but he has only made three appearances this season as understudy to David de Gea.
The competition appears to have served De Gea well, prompting an improvement back towards his best form after a worrying two-year slump, although it means Henderson’s chances of usurping the Spaniard and becoming United number one in the short-term are getting smaller.
With the delayed Euro 2020 on the horizon next summer, 90min has learned that Southgate has informed Henderson he can’t make him number one if he is not playing at club level. He is therefore now desperate to secure a move in January and United are prepared to sanction another loan.
It may have to be an 18-month deal until the summer of 2022 in order to find a club willing to take him midway through the season, but Henderson’s representatives are now actively working hard to identify an appropriate team ahead of the winter transfer window.
Aston Villa were interested during the summer and had all but agreed a deal until Henderson was persuaded to stay in Manchester. Villa then turned to Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal instead.
With Premier League clubs spoken for – he has been replaced at Sheffield United by £18m summer signing Aaron Ramsdale – it could mean that Henderson may have to consider moving abroad in order to secure the playing time he needs, or perhaps even to Scotland, where Celtic is an option.
Playing outside the Premier League is no longer seen as the barrier to England selection it once was, with Jude Bellingham having now joined Borussia Dortmund teammate Jadon Sancho in the squad.
“United appreciate Henderson staying put but they know he is now being held back and needs another loan, although that may not be easy but they are willing to work hard on securing him a move,” a source with knowledge of the situation told 90min.
If Henderson does move on loan in January, United still have Sergio Romero on the books after denying the Argentine a move in summer, although he is also actively looking to leave.