David De Gea

Why David de Gea was dropped from Spain national team

Sean Walsh
De Gea was omitted from Spain's squad for the March internationals
De Gea was omitted from Spain's squad for the March internationals / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages
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David de Gea was most likely dropped from the Spain national team for this month's internationals due to subpar abilities at anything other than shot-stopping.

The Manchester United goalkeeper was a shock omission from Luis Enrique's squad for the latest round of matches, with Brentford's David Raya receiving his maiden call-up instead.

The decision to drop De Gea, who has been in fine form for the Red Devils this season, was met with scepticism by some corners of the English and Spanish press, questioning the inclusion of the inexperienced Raya at his expense.

And while Enrique has towed the public line that he admires Raya's profile as a sweeper keeper, ability on the ball and curiosity to see him in La Roja's setup, there are other areas in which the Bees stopper excels when compared to De Gea.

In a piece for ESPN, Spanish football writer Sid Lowe detailed the recent workings of football statistician Alexis Tamayo in which Enrique's goalkeeper pool were rated on seven metrics. These included saves, catches, punches, passes and challenges won.

Raya ranked as the top Spanish goalkeeper against these metrics with a score of 85%, while De Gea placed below Robert Sanchez and Unai Simon - the two other stoppers in Enrique's current squad - with a measly 54%.

It had been speculated long before this recent revelation that De Gea lost his place as Spain's number one due to his lack of comfort when in possession, while Simon has also spoken of Enrique's desire for his goalkeeper to act as an eleventh outfielder.

According to FBRef, De Gea ranks among the worst goalkeepers in the Premier League this season in terms of actions undertaken outside his penalty area (21st), percentage of crosses stopped (23rd) and passes attempted (18th).

Despite remaining a member of the squad this season until being dropped this month, De Gea hasn't actually made an appearance for Spain since October 2020. He also hasn't been his country's regular starter in goal since November 2018 when he first lost his place to Kepa Arrizabalaga, before Simon eventually took over instead.

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