In a deal that has been rumoured for a few weeks now, Manchester United have confirmed the signing of Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero on a free transfer after his contract expired with Sampdoria last month.
Romero joins the English side after a fairly successful Copa América with Argentina, playing every game of the tournament even keeping a clean sheet in the final (bar the penalty loss).
With this recent form in fresh memory Manchester United have jumped on the chance to sign an internationally experienced keeper for limited cost.
This signing comes in a summer that has been so focused on whether David de Gea will leave Manchester United for Real Madrid. Some fans might read into this signing that Romero is a replacement for the Spaniard, however I sincerely doubt that will be the case.
This is in no short part due to Van Gaal’s very public put down of current back-up ‘keeper Víctor Valdés: “He doesn’t follow my philosophy. There is no place for someone like that."
This is widely believed as a comment that Valdés often refused to train with the youth team or the reserve team. van Gaal made it very clear that Valdés will be sold this summer, or at least will not play for Man Utd this season.
Thus one can only imagine Romero being signed as a back up for de Gea, as in terms of quality, Romero is no where near the same ability as David de Gea.
A brief profile of the player before I get on to what I really want to write about! Standing at 192cm Romero is certainly an imposing figure in goal. He has excellent command of his box and is decent at claiming crosses as well as this his reflexes are suitable for a ‘keeper of his standing.
That being said, there is a reason why Romero has not been a number one for a team since the 2012/2013 season. Sergio Romero is the type of ‘keeper that always seems to have a mistake in his game, his handling is often sub-par and has seemingly lacked the desire to be a number one for a club.
Although no one can doubt Romero’s experience, especially at international level, notching up 62 caps for one of the best national teams in the world is no small achievement. As well as the 62 caps, Romero has also played for Argentina one the largest stage in the world, the 2014 World Cup Final against Germany. Ultimately Romero is a decent back up, he’s solid, nothing more.
Now to discuss what I really want to discuss! So if Sergio Romero has barely played club football for the past three years why is he Argentina’s number one?
There are a few theories as to why Romero has played so often for Argentina despite never being in ‘good club form’. One of these theories is that Romero was preferred by both Alejandro Sabella (Manager of Argentina from 2011 – 2014) and current manager Gerardo Martino. This is reiterated by the fact that fellow Argentine ‘keeper Mariano Andújar who has been in good form for Napoli for the past two seasons, has only been able to get 10 caps in total.
Another reason is that Romero has been Argentina’s number one is that one could argue he has been solid for La Albiceleste, he has not been replaced because there is no reason to do so. This does ring somewhat true as with Romero as ‘keeper Argentina have managed to get to South America’s most prestigious international tournament as well as of course the World Cup.
Another theory is that whilst Argentine manager’s might have wanted to replace Sergio Romero, they simply have not had the players available to do so. This is perhaps the weakest theory, as whilst Argentina have not had a great goalkeeper since the days of the two Roberto’s (Abbondanzieri and Bonano), they have had the access to goalkeeper’s who are at least on par in terms of quality with Romero. For example, players like Napoli’s Mariano Andújar, Manchester City’s Willy Caballero, Santos Laguna’s Agustín Marchesín or the fantastically named Gerónimo Rulli for Real Sociedad.
A bright future for Argentinian 'keepers?
Marchesín and Rulli are particularly players that should be hugely important to the future of Argentina. Marchesín at 27 years old and two caps to his name is the more experienced of the two. Currently playing the Mexican league having signed for Torreón outlet Santos Laguna from Argentine side Lanús.
Rulli however is a player that I am most excited about, I firmly believe he has the potential to be a great goalkeeper, not just for Argentina but rather any top European clubs. The baby faced Argentine has performed admirably this season in what has been his first experience of European football. Rulli was signed to replace Sociedad captain Claudio Bravo following his transfer to Barcelona. Thus Rulli definitely had large ‘gloves’ to fill, however there can be little doubt he has done exceptionally well so far, definitely a player to look out for.
Yet any clubs looking to sign him need to be wary, currently he is only on loan at Real Sociedad due to his playing rights being owned by Paraguayan side Deportivo Maldonado, despite never having played for the side. Thus as the case so often is with South American players, third right parties can very easily complicate deals, just see the furor caused by Neymar’s signing by Barcelona or even West Ham’s infamous signings of Carlitos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.
Ultimately Manchester United have made a decent signing in Sergio Romero, I sincerely doubt he will be a revelation or even play that often, although I have been wrong before.
But the Romero signing is the dull part of this article, what is truly interesting is seeing why Romero plays for often for Argentina and his potential replacements. Football fans definitely keep an eye for Rulli and Marchesín.