Ralf Rangnick has admitted Dean Henderson wanted to leave Manchester United in order to have more regular playing time.

But when asked about Henderson in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa, Rangnick said he told Henderson he didn’t want to let him go.

Rangnick said he has been impressed with Henderson in training this week and with United still in three competitions he wants to keep three goalkeepers.

It remains to be seen if Rangnick softens his stance as the January window progresses, but as things stand, Henderson isn’t going anywhere.

(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

“Well, I told him I would like him to stay because he’s a fantastic goalkeeper,” Rangnick said when asked for the latest on Henderson’s situation.

“Yesterday in training he made two more fantastic saves. I really like having him on board, as one of the top three goalkeepers.

“I can fully understand that he wants to play because he is at a time when, as a goalkeeper, he should be playing regularly.

“On the other hand, we are still in three competitions, we need the three goalkeepers we have at the moment. I told him that but I can also, on the other hand, understand his desire to get playing time elsewhere in the Premier League.

(Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Is Rangnick taking the right position?

On the one hand, Rangnick is interim manager and strictly speaking he doesn’t really have any obligation – and there’s not really any benefit for him – to think about anything beyond the end of the season.

If that means stockpiling goalkeepers so United aren’t caught off guard, then so be it. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did the same before being sacked this season and freezing Sergio Romero last season.

But if United loaned out Henderson, they would still have Tom Heaton as an experienced replacement should David de Gea get injured.

Of course, it wouldn’t be ideal for all parties if United let Henderson go on loan and de Gea was ruled out indefinitely.

But it is also less than ideal that Henderson is languishing in the background at Old Trafford, his 2022 World Cup hopes fading and the progress he made last season slipping away.

If United can get him out somewhere where he can play in the Premier League, that seems a fair trade-off, but Rangnick has so far been clear with the pool of goalkeepers he wants and he’s erring on the side of caution.

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