Argentine 28-year-old, two-time World Cup goalkeeper Sergio “Chiquito” Romero arrived at Manchester United this summer on a free transfer after his contract ended with Italian club Sampdoria, where he had few starting opportunities. Romero’s arrival is surprising, and apparently very important in what now appears as Man U’s machiavellian negotiation tactics.
The move is interesting. Not only because Romero immediately got the starting position for a world-class team after spending a season on the bench of a far lesser team (who hardly ever make it to the Champions or the UEFA Europa League), but also because Manchester United already has two world-class Spanish-speaking goalies: David de Gea and Víctor Valdés.
Víctor Valdés’ exit from Barcelona has been a tumultuous one. He got severely injured before leaving the team, and his arrival to Manchester United was somewhat promising, but after the relationship with Dutch manager van Gaal (who’s known for being difficult) went sour, the Spaniard has been watching United matches from the stands, not even the bench.
De Gea’s situation is a little more complicated. The 24-year-old keeper has one year left on his contract with United, but Real Madrid wants him badly. How much? Apparently enough to have offered a reported 30-something million euros, but Manchester wants 40. They also wanted Sergio Ramos, but that didn’t go through either. Many believe de Gea will get – and hold – the goalkeeper position on the Spanish national team for many years, and thus the Galácticos’ interest.
So now that there are less than 15 days until the closing of the transfer window in Europe, Manchester United and Real Madrid are playing politics. Real Madrid is preying on United’s fear of missing out on more than 30-something million euros if they don’t close the deal, since de Gea would go free the following year. Meanwhile, Manchester is playing with de Gea’s psychological well-being, sending him to the stands with Valdés.
Chiquito Romero’s arrival is apparently Man U’s wild card. The Argentine has not disappointed in the first two league matches, and it seems like he will keep the position even if de Gea stays on the team for the following season. Van Gaal is apparently punishing de Gea for wanting to leave the team, but he is also putting the fear factor on the Spaniard: he either leaves at the wanted price of Man U, or he spends the season on the bench.
Whatever happens with de Gea and Valdés, it seems like Chiquito Romero will finally be getting an opportunity at a truly major club team. Many will say that de Gea is simply at a much higher skill level than Romero, but this could be quite questionable. Although de Gea’s quality is definitely great, he might have been looking even better given the lack of good defenders (and team) that Man U has had in the past few seasons.
It is Chiquito’s turn at Man U. Although they had some trouble against Belgium team Club Brugge KV last night in the Champions League qualifier, it all seems like Memphis Depay and Wayne Rooney will actually be leading a fighting Man U this season, so the Argentine goalkeeper will have plenty of time to shine and show what he’s really made of.