De Gea aiming for the top

Posted by Mark Payne

VI Images/Getty ImagesSpain's David De Gea has yet to allow a goal in the European U-21 championships going into Tuesday's final against Italy.

Tuesday's European Under-21 championship final features Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea in the ascent with Spain. He has kept four clean sheets in the tournament so far and wants to turn that achievement into a winner's medal, too -- all while most of his United teammates are on holiday. Whatever the result against Italy, De Gea has only one thing on his mind -- becoming the world's best.

"My objective is to be right up there with the best players in the world, that's what makes me excited, and I'm doing everything I can to achieve that," De Gea said this week. Before he becomes world No. 1, De Gea will need to dislodge Iker Casillas from the jersey in the senior Spain team. That will not be an easy task, considering the Real Madrid keeper is part of the side that has begun promisingly in the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

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United’s new wing, Wilfried Zaha, was also present at the European U-21 championships with a moribund England team. Stuart Pearce's side didn’t register a point and it is hoped that this will not blunt Zaha's sterling progress.

Another side having a tough time of it are Javier Hernandez's Mexico. Despite Chicharito burying a penalty with professional ruthlessness in their opening Confederations Cup game against Italy, it wasn’t enough to save the fixture and they lost 2-1. Hernandez is also Mexico’s top scorer in World Cup qualifying, with five goals.

Also in Brazil, Shinji Kagawa was part of the Japan team that was routed 3-0 by a Neymar-inspired Brazil on Saturday. Their next fixture will be against an assured-looking Italy side led by Andrea Pirlo. Japan might be happy to let this tournament slide, though. They are sitting pretty at the top of their World Cup group and became the first side to qualify for next year’s showpiece 10 days ago.

David Moyes is no doubt watching all of this with keen interest. While on the last few days of his holiday, he will be wondering which players will need game time when they report back to Manchester next month. United play their first tour match in Bangkok on July 13 and that side will be the first the new manager picks. It is an important lineup to wait for.

United’s tour through Asia and Australia will give Moyes the time he needs to experiment and get to know his players. In goal, De Gea wants to build on last season’s success and improve again. “I have had one year playing well but I'm still very young," he said. "I think that I still have a way to go before I reach the level of the best in the world.”

If he continues to keep all these clean sheets, he might just get there.

Follow Mark on @markjpayne

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