Louis van Gaal has finally added a goalkeeper to his ranks at Old Trafford, in the shape of Argentina international Sergio Romero. The shot-stopper arrives in Manchester from free agent status having played under LVG at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar previously. Speculation surrounding current ‘keepers David De Gea and Victor Valdes continues to mount, so Romero, who art thou replacing?
Last season’s No.1, De Gea, is on the proverbial brink of a move to La Liga juggernauts Real Madrid. The shot-shopper’s saga has dragged its gloves along all summer so far, but history has taught us that Los Blancos always get their man. With just a year left on his contract, the United net-minder appears to be the ideal replacement for Galactico icon Iker Casillas, who has been ousted to Portuguese giants FC Porto. After a stellar season between the sticks last year, the Spanish international is top of the Bernabeu wanted list.
Despite lining up for the club in a pre-season friendly against Barcelona, it would be unwise to bet against De Gea returning to Spain this summer. Madrid chief Florentino Perez gets what he wants more often than not. Although the deadlock drags on, Van Gaal even acknowledged the threat of losing his No.1 when unveiling Romero: “with the threat David De Gea is going to Real Madrid, we have to prepare for our season.”
The Argentine has appeared at two World Cups and two Copa America tournaments, featuring in finals at both within the last year. In fact, it was the former Sampdoria ‘keeper who kept out Van Gaal’s Holland side in the World Cup semi-finals last year. Having plied his trade under the Dutchmen previously, Romero has attracted praise from his new manager, “I have a lot of confidence that he can fulfil what we are expecting.”
An international pedigree to shout about and a ‘keeper described by his new boss as “very good with his feet” appears to be the ideal replacement for the Galactico in waiting. This deal, especially on a free, appears to be a bargain.
In an ideal world, however, De Gea would stay in England. All is not lost yet, as the Red Devils appear to dig their claws into Real. Should the Spain stopper stay, Romero would be replacing another La Roja international in Victor Valdes. Ex Barcelona star Valdes only joined the club in January, but has struggled to regain his form following a serious injury while at the Nou Camp. Left out of the clubs pre-season tour, Victor looks set to be evicted.
Romero as a No.2 suggests a seriously strong squad is in place. Despite his international acclaim, the new ‘keeper has had a rather strange club career. After leaving Holland, he moved to then Serie B side Sampdoria and ended up on loan at Monaco. At club level, he has rarely been first choice since leaving Eredivisie, but represents a luxurious back-ip option. Should Valdes look for pastures new, the new signing could be a much healthier (and cheaper) option.
There are two Spanish shot stoppers new boy Sergio could feasibly replace at Old Trafford. A ‘keeper with international experience, United are in a safe pair of hands should he replace current incumbent De Gea in the number 1 jersey. However, should he be replacing Victor Valdes, Van Gaal might just have the strongest options between the sticks in the whole league.