Spain number one Unai Simon has admitted that it is ‘a bit crazy’ the way goalkeepers are judged following David de Gea’s omission from their World Cup squad.
De Gea has fallen out of favour with Spain manager Luis Enrique in recent months in part due to his inability to play from the back at a high level. He has been usurped in La Roja’s setup by Brighton’s Robert Sanchez and Brentford’s David Raya.
Athletic Club’s Simon remains Enrique’s first choice between the sticks, though is infamous for a comical blunder made during Spain’s Euro 2020 last-16 tie with Croatia, allowing a pass from Pedri to slip under him and roll into an empty net.
“I’ve made a lot of terrible mistakes since I was a kid, crazy goals,” Simon told the Guardian.
“The best thing that can happen is you get the same ball again, control it and play. If it’s a technical error, of execution, not a conceptual one, all you can think is: OK, next pass. A conceptual error is different: that means we haven’t understood what the manager wants. If it’s a pass played too short to the full-back, say, and it’s been intercepted, that doesn’t mean the next one goes to the centre-back instead: it’s the same ball. You can’t stop playing that pass.”
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Despite this obsession of using goalkeepers like outfielders, De Gea remains an excellent shot-stopper, and Simon explained that this is still the main way they should be judged.
“Sometimes I think we’re getting a bit crazy in how we look at keepers,” he said.
“What is his primary job still? Stop the ball going past him. A modern keeper, like [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, has both.”