Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has revealed that he came close to joining Wigan Athletic over a year before eventually moving to England in 2011.
De Gea was only a teenager at the time, having made his first-team debut for Atletico Madrid in the opening weeks of the 2009/10 season. But he struggled to build on that and was stuck behind the more senior Roberto and Sergio Asenjo.
The opportunity to go to Wigan came up, with the Latics managed by fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez at the time – a few years later Martinez did go on to take Joel Robles to Lancashire from Atletico, also signing him for Everton as well.
But De Gea, despite his age, suddenly got his chance at Atletico, taking over as number one in the second half of the 2009/10 campaign. That season culminated in an extra-time win over Fulham in the Europa League final, with De Gea playing all 120 minutes.
De Gea opened up about the potential to join Wigan during his appearance on the popular BT Sport web series What I Wore.
“I was in Atletico and it was the same season I made my debut and I was like the third keeper and not even counting for the team much, just training. Nothing else,” he explained.
“So Wigan got in contact with me just to sign for them and I was very, very close to sign for Wigan.”
The following season, De Gea was Atletico’s undisputed number one and was heavily scouted by Manchester United, who were planning to replace Edwin van der Sar upon his 2011 retirement.
United completed a deal worth just shy of £19m, a British record for a goalkeeper at the time. Despite a shaky start, De Gea went on to establish himself as the best in the world by 2014, albeit later going on to suffer dips in forms, and is now close to his 500th appearance for the club.
Wigan were eventually relegated from the Premier League in 2013 after eight consecutive top flight seasons, even winning the FA Cup, and have spent most of the last decade yo-yoing between the Championship and League One.