Whatever you think about the Europa League, you have to tip your hat to the fact it has a bespoke, £350,000-a-week goalkeeper as one of its poster boys.

When Manchester United take on the might of Aston Villa on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will probably prefer Dean Henderson to David de Gea.

We are talking David de Gea here. A perennial winner of Manchester United’s Player of the Year award.

A winner of Match of the Day’s Save of the Season on five occasions.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

A player who has not exactly inspired Manchester United to continued glories but, instead, has helped make their under-achievement less pronounced.

He has a Premier League medal to his name but, essentially, the last half a decade of his career has been spent firefighting.

Unlike a keeper such as Ederson, he has not had the luxury of honing his Glenn Hoddle-style distribution skills.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer now seems to have Dean Henderson ahead of David de Gea in his pecking order

He conceded three goals in Rome but none were his fault and was called on to make several saves that were trademark was De Gea.

An instinctive point-blanker here, a block with his legs there.

Has there ever been a blue-chip keeper who has used his lower limbs more than De Gea?

In his own way, he has rewritten the goalkeeping manual.

But now, it seems his time, certainly at United, might be fading.

David de Gea made several trademark blocks to make sure Manchester United progressed
David de Gea made several trademark blocks to make sure Manchester United progressed

And as much as Henderson had a decent season on loan at Sheffield United, that seems slightly bizarre.

De Gea does not turn 31 until later this year and might not even be at his best yet.

In Rome, he looked as sharp and as agile as he has always done.

And that is no surprise. For all his unorthodoxy, for all the reservations about his distribution skills, De Gea is a bona fide, world-class, shot-stopper.

They might be the best of team-mates and rivals but surely David de Gea cannot hang around as Dean Henderson's stand-in for too long

His step-overs, his drag-backs, Cruyff turns and long-range passes might not be up to scratch but he can find ways of keeping attempts out of the net.

He has made some howlers in recent seasons but, considering how many chances United have allowed, that is the law of averages.

There are those who have long thought De Gea is over-rated. Fair enough.

But one thing is for sure. He is better than playing second fiddle to a keeper who, internationally, plays third fiddle to Jordan Pickford.

It is a tricky situation for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to sort out.

But David de Gea should be no-one’s number two.