Realising an English dream: Three potential loan destinations for Dean Henderson | THT Opinions

With David de Gea cementing his place in the Manchester United goal, The Hard Tackle lists three possible destinations for Dean Henderson for a January loan move.

For some time now, it has been famously proclaimed how Manchester United do not need to look beyond Old Trafford in order to secure the future of the goalkeeping spot. Just about every position in the squad has indeed been subject to some sort of transition in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

However, David de Gea’s brilliant form between the sticks for a number of years meant that despite the infamous links with Real Madrid, managers did not need to worry about signing a goalkeeper. Even when the Spaniard’s form slipped in the last couple of seasons, Manchester United fans were breathing easy due to the fact that they had the reliable Sergio Romero as a backup custodian.

More importantly, in Dean Henderson, the Red Devils had a promising goalkeeper out on loan at Sheffield United, showing the potential to step up if de Gea was deemed surplus to requirements. Finally, United also have a superb production line of prodigious goalkeepers in their youth setup, meaning they could afford not to look at some of the biggest names for the position.

Henderson, on his part, has also oozed confidence when speaking about his prospects in goal for years to come at Manchester United. Indeed, when Henderson returned to Manchester United this past summer after two years at Sheffield United, he made it clear that he would be challenging de Gea for the no. 1 spot.

David de Gea is slowly rediscovering his best, which does not bode well for Henderson. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
David de Gea is slowly rediscovering his best, which does not bode well for Henderson. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Manchester United, on their part, reciprocated the signal of intent by the young Englishman by promoting him ahead of Romero in the goalkeeping pecking order. Things, though, have not quite gone to plan for Henderson two months into the new season, with de Gea rolling back the years to become a force in goal once again.

However, this situation does not bode well for Henderson’s prospects in international football, with Jordan Pickford and Nick Pope ahead of him in the English national setup. As a result, it has been mooted that the 23-year-old could be hauled off on loan once again, with Manchester United also eager to not let the youngster’s growth get stunted.

Indeed, if de Gea continues to reinforce his stronghold over the first-choice goalkeeping spot, it will be highly unlikely that Henderson gets a great deal of game-time apart from outings in cup fixtures and the odd appearance in Europe and the Premier League. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for Henderson over a January loan move.

Sheffield United

The first one is rather obvious.

Sheffield United have had a horrendous start to the 2020/21 season; and there is a sense that the dreaded “Second Season Syndrome” might be set to take another scalp in the form of the Blades, who are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table after raking in just the solitary point from their opening eight games.

Aaron Ramsdale, the man who replaced Henderson in goal, has not had the brightest of starts to life back at Bramall Lane and has drawn criticism for some of his performances. The 22-year-old, who arrived from relegated Bournemouth this past summer, is still in search of his first clean sheet and it has not helped that he was filling the boots of a goalkeeper who had done so exceedingly well during his time at Sheffield United.

A goalkeeper par excellence during his time at Sheffield United, should Dean Henderson return to Bramall Lane on a temporary basis once again? (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)
A goalkeeper par excellence during his time at Sheffield United, should Dean Henderson return to Bramall Lane on a temporary basis once again? (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Despite all the heat he is at the receiving end of at present, Ramsdale has the backing of manager Chris Wilder, for now. However, if Sheffield United’s season continues to unravel, it will surely be a prudent move to enter the market and re-sign a goalkeeper who was more than just a capable shot-stopper in two years at the club.

Henderson’s presence in goal could theoretically put the Sheffield United defence at ease as well, considering they have been uncharacteristically wobbly till now. For Henderson, it would be a chance to once again make a case for himself for Manchester United as well as England playing in the surroundings where he was so revered. A win-win situation for all parties involved.


The next one might be an interesting pick for many. After all, it could be argued that Henderson will be up against better attacks if he remains in the Premier League rather than making his way to Scotland by joining Celtic.

However, if he does make his way to Celtic, Henderson will play under the most intense pressure he has ever felt in his career. After all, for the first time since becoming a senior footballer, Henderson will be playing week in week out in goal for a club that has genuine title aspirations, which, in turn, will be a test of his character.

So, by sending the 23-year-old on loan to Celtic, Manchester United can potentially get an efficient indication of the youngster’s mettle. The Hoops do seem to be in need of a top-class goalkeeper too following a difficult start to the current campaign, having not quite managed to replace Fraser Forster.

Celtic have failed to adequately replace Fraser Forster. (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)
Celtic have failed to adequately replace Fraser Forster. (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

Vasilis Barkas, who was Forster’s replacement at Celtic Park, has made a horrendous start to his stint with the Scottish giants and has already lost his place in the side. Henderson will, therefore, have the chance to make the goalkeeping spot his own and possibly inspire Celtic to a historic 10th successive Premiership title.

If they somehow manage to salvage their Europa League campaign, European football could also be on offer. The Celtic move will, therefore, provide Henderson with the climate to hone his skills in demanding environs, which could potentially be ideal for his growth trajectory to continue being on an upward curve.

FC Schalke 04

Another club that has had a sub-par start to the season. Another club that appears to be in need of a goalkeeper who can hold his own in crunch situations. Schalke are teetering towards the bottom of the Bundesliga table after managing just three wins from their opening seven games.

Still in search of their first win of the league campaign, the Royal Blues have been extremely porous at the back so far. Indeed, Schalke have the worst defensive record in the Bundesliga so far, having shipped in a staggering 22 goals already. While the defence has flattered to deceive, goalkeepers Ralf Fahrmann and Frederik Ronnow have hardly given a good account of themselves either.

Here is where Henderson comes in. With the Bundesliga recently becoming a breeding ground for many-a-promising English youngster, a move to Germany is no longer a daunting prospect, especially for someone who is in desperate need of some quality first-team football after a slow start to his season with Manchester United.

If he does make his way to Schalke, Henderson will have the chance to inspire Schalke to a survival campaign if he can channel David de Gea’s spirit at Veltins-Arena. At the same time, he will be going toe to toe with some of the best attacking talents in the game, giving him the quintessential platform to take the next step in his career and possibly impress Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Gareth Southgate. An intriguing option for Henderson.

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