That point can be no greater emphasised than his performance against Arsenal in early December, where De Gea made an incredible 14 saves as he helped his side to a 2-1 victory at the Emirates Stadium.
On Friday, United boss Jose Mourinho revealed that Ibrahimovic would remain on the sidelines through injury until the end of January, but it appears that there are no guarantees of the Swede still being at Old Trafford.
"You need the keeper to be there for you when the team needs", Mourinho said after the game. It was only due to delayed paperwork that De Gea is not the number one at the Santiago Bernabeu today.
But according to Nicol, he will be a United player in the coming years.
"Now, does he go to Man United eventually?"
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The Red Devils are now poised to start talks with the ex-Atletico Madrid stopper in the next few weeks.
"Pulisic himself seems too level-headed to eye up a move to bigger, more pressurised clubs before he's fully formed as one of those rare attacking midfielders who can make the difference every single time they touch the ball", ESPN's Raphael Honigstein wrote in his report. De Gea is now contracted to United until the summer of 2019 with an option of a further 12 months.
De Gea is enjoying another fine season at the Theatre of Dreams, ensuring the club have only fallen to three league defeats.
It is understood United want to hand him anything up to a new five-year contract, sealing his long-term future.