Though David de Gea is not lacking confidence and remains one of the world’s best despite his international struggles,Spain team-mate Saul Niguez believes criticism of the goalkeeper harms the team.
The goalkeeper was criticised for Tin Jedvaj’s late Nations League winner for Croatia on Thursday, a 3-2 loss leaving Spain’s chances of reaching the finals out of their hands.
De Gea made a single save at the World Cup, where he was guilty of a poor mistake that allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to score in a draw against Portugal, and his international form has not improved since.
The Manchester United goalkeeper has stopped less than half of the shots on target he has faced for Spain since Russia 2018, conceding 13 efforts and only saving 11.
De Gea faces competition for his international place from goalkeepers including Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga, and Saul came out in defence of the United star ahead of a friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday, saying the criticism he gets affects everyone on the team.
“When you put so much criticism on a player, it affects us all,” Saul said at a news conference.
“Even if we say, ‘No, it is not good for anyone that De Gea receives criticism, they should not be like that’.
“He is one of the best in the world. There may be times when you decide good or bad and for me it is unfair that you blame De Gea.
45.8% – Since the 2018 World Cup, David de Gea has only saved 45.8% of the shots on target he has faced for Spain (11 from 24, excluding penalty shoot-outs). Discussion. pic.twitter.com/MUXQqDF5Yd
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 17, 2018
“I do not think he lacks confidence, he shows a tremendous personality, but what is generated, that negative energy, is not good for anyone. It would be best to change energy and talk about other things.
“If David concedes goals, I do not think it’s just his fault, but everyone’s, we all have to pay more attention.”
Spain will only qualify for the Nations League Finals if England and Croatia draw in their decider at Wembley on Sunday, but they cannot be relegated from League A.