The David De Gea and Real Madrid speculation has been filling the back pages for the majority of the summer and has no signs of coming to a conclusion. Louis Van Gaal has made a move in the transfer market, though, to try and ease that situation. The Dutchman has brought in Sergio Romero on a free transfer, who, as revealed on the club's official website, has signed a three-year deal.
LVG worked with Romero at AZ Alkmaar and they both achieved great success during their time there, winning the Eredivisie in 2009. Romero also went 950 minutes without conceding during this spell. Good form at club level leads to international call-ups but, rather uniquely, Romero's international achievements have superseded his club success in recent years.
The goalkeeper made his debut for Argentina in 2009 under Diego Maradona while at AZ Alkmaar and has cemented his place as the country's custodian under all the managers that have followed. He has 62 caps for his country now; a record for an Argentinian goalkeeper. He played in the 2014 World Cup final, playing a starring role in the semi-final which knocked out Louis van Gaal's own Netherlands side. He saved two penalties in the shoot-out to take Argentina through.
The 28-year-old's club career has stalled of late, however. A move to Serie B side Sampdoria started off well with promotion in the first season but he found himself out on loan at Monaco in 2013, where he was second choice to Croatian 'keeper Danijel Subasic. Upon his return to Sampdoria, he was again second choice and had to settle for a place on the bench. But the new Manchester United goalkeeper's international pedigree speaks for itself and he was one of the hottest properties available on a free transfer this summer.
The De Gea situation is unknown but Van Gaal clearly feels that, if the Spaniard does leave, Romero can fill his shoes. A lot of United fans would expect a big-money signing to replace De Gea but that isn't necessary. Indeed, Victor Valdes could have done the job well, before his manager publicly said he wasn't happy with him and he would be leaving. Valdes had apparently refused to play a reserve game which had infuriated Van Gaal, as reported by The Telegraph.
Van Gaal obviously knows Romero well and his international success stands him in good stead for the challenge ahead. Even if De Gea leaves, it is unlikely another 'keeper would be brought in. Anders Lindegaard is still on the books, although he would probably be keen for some first-team football elsewhere now. Sam Johnstone has featured in pre-season games but the signing of Romero could lead to him returning to Preston North End on loan.
Replacing De Gea will never be easy, just as United found when trying to replace Edwin Van Der Sar - and just as many found when trying to replace Peter Schmeichel (Massimo Taibi standing out from that group). Romero is a good signing for Manchester United, though, especially on a free transfer.
It is a clever move by the manager. And, even if De Gea stays for one more year, Romero will provide good competition and would be an able replacement.