Manchester United might need to offload six more players this summer

Manchester United have a 31-man first team squad at this moment in time which consists of experienced players and players who have come through the clubs academy, that might yet be loaned out this summer. If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to bring in more new faces to join Donny van de Beek at the Old Trafford club, he might yet need to clear a few more players out from the club to make room. United need an injection of quality this summer as other than the starting XI and a few other players, there is a severe lack of quality in the squad.

It is possible that six players could leave the club this summer, even after Alexis Sanchez, who left as a free agent and signed for Inter Milan. Chris Smalling is linked with an exit to AS Roma, a club that he spent last season on loan with, which saw him quickly find his feet in Italy and look to be heading back to his best after a turbulent few years at United. Two other defenders could be on their last legs at United; Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones. Rojo was loaned out to Estudiantes in January with Jones missing much of the season due to injury, again.

Solskjaer may not allow three central defenders to leave the club this summer, without one coming in although Axel Tuanzebe should be fit this month and Solskjaer has Teden Mengi coming through the ranks in the academy but one signing would be good this summer, if a player is available that would benefit the squad. United cannot continue with Rojo and Jones at the club though and will need to part ways with them sooner or later as they do not offer much benefit in the squad moving forward.

Andreas Pereira is another player who could find it hard to continue at United as the club has better players that him on the squad. The arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January made things hard for Pereira and Van de Beek’s arrival has made it even more difficult for him. Pereira has passion but in terms of what kind of player he is, it is not all that obvious as he’s played defensive midfield, central midfield, attacking midfield and even as a winger – he just does not seem to have an established role at United.

Jesse Lingard is another player that would benefit away from Old Trafford, as would United benefit from his departure. I have nothing against him but over the last two years or so, there has been little output from the player – he literally scored his first Premier League goal of the season in United’s final game against Leicester City. Off the field, his life had been dealt a blow with the illness of his mother but that is not excuse not to put in the work and find the form needed to be a footballer. United would be much better off if they could find a buyer for the player.

The last of the six players is Sergio Romero. It is not ideal that he might leave the club as for the past five years he has been the best number two goalkeeper in the Premier League. The Argentinian has been linked to Everton, Leeds United, Aston Villa and Chelsea, although the latter does not seem to be a viable option with the club looking at alternatives. There was suggestion that Villa were close to completing a deal for the player last week but nothing has happened yet.

Solskjaer has been seeking to rebuild United since he replaced Jose Mourinho as the manager of the club in December 2018 after his sacking. He initially did well then in March 2019 he was made the permanent manager and things stuttered that season with United seeking to make improvements during the 2019/20 season. The season started well, stuttered again but after Fernandes’ arrival, United changed completely and earned a third-placed finish in the Premier League, earning UEFA Champions League football for the 2020/21 season.

So far this summer, United have signed Van de Beek from Ajax. They have been linked to Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund all summer but the deadline to sign the player elapsed with the German club seeming determined to keep the player for the 2020/21 season. United still have him as their number one target though. With the midfield the best it has been since Sir Alex Ferguson managed the club, signing a central defender, aa left-back, a right-winger and a striker would be good for the club but only so much can happen this summer.

Written by John Walker

Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton interested in signing Sergio Romero to challenge Jordan Pickford

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly interested in signing Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero this summer to challenge Jordan Pickford for the number one spot at the Goodison Park club. This is not the first time that the Argentinian as been linked with an exit from United this summer with Leeds United and Chelsea also linked with the player in recent weeks – although nothing concrete has happened regarding the speculation. It could be the start of something though.

Romero was seemingly annoyed this season after David De Gea performed poorly in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, conceding two poor goals which saw United exit from the competition. It was expected that Romero would continue playing in the competition. De Gea was then kept in the team for the remainder of the season in the Premier League, which must have irked the Argentinian goalkeeper. Romero then played in two UEFA Europa League matches; LASK and FC Copenhagen before being benched in the semi-final for De Gea with United exiting the competition.

Romero has spent five year at United, signing as a free agent in the summer of 2015 and doing well at the club, also becoming the best second choice goalkeeper in the league for the performances he has made when called upon. The return of Dean Henderson to the Old Trafford club this summer has put the cat amongst the pigeons with Henderson, 23, seeking to take on De Gea for the number one shirt at the club which could leave Romero on the sidelines looking on. The Sun has reported Everton’s interested in the Argentinian this summer.

It would make sense for Romero to leave United this summer, if that is what he wanted to do. The player has a contract at the club which expires in the summer of 2021, although United have the option to extend that for another year – which they might be forced to do in order to get a decent fee for the player. During the 2019/20 season, Romero made a total of 17 appearances for the club, playing in the UEFA Europa League, Carabao Cup and the Emirates FA Cup, conceding five goals and keeping 12 clean sheets.

The 33-year-old might well be seeking to establish himself as the number one goalkeeper at a club, which might not be what could happen at United considering the rise of Henderson, who has done well on each loan spell away from the club, spending two years at Sheffield United which saw the club rise from the Championship with the goalkeeper in the squad and finish highly in the Premier League in their first season back in the English top flight.

It would make sense if the player seeks a move to a club whereby he would be granted the opportunity to challenge the existing goalkeeper at the club, which would not only see him rise in stature but the goalkeeper he is challenging would have to do the same to win his place back, giving a club two top goalkeepers giving rotation options to keep freshness in the squad. An Everton move would be good for Romero, should he decide to leave the club this summer. His time at United would be applauded for what he helped to win; one Emirates FA Cup, one EFL Cup, one FA Community Shield and one UEFA Europa League.

Written by John Walker

Sergio Romero wanted by Chelsea, Everton and Leeds United but player could be used as leverage

Chelsea are reportedly plotting a surprise move for Manchester United number two goalkeeper Sergio Romero. For weeks, months even, it has been known that Frank Lampard is not happy with his number one goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and the English manager has been seeking a replacement with Dean Henderson touted, despite the player being contracted at United for two more years, not to mention the fact he is close to signing a new contract at the club.

The Sun has suggested that Romero, 33, could be seeking an exit of the Old Trafford club this summer, after seeing David De Gea make some costly mistakes and not being given a chance to show what he could do, despite the fact we know that he is one of, if not the best second-choice goalkeeper in the Premier League at this moment in time and has been for most of the five years that he has been at United. It would seem that Henderson is returning to United this summer, despite conflicting reports.

If this happens, the 23-year-old will not be sitting there as the third or even fourth-choice goalkeeper and will be seeking to take on both Romero and De Gea with a view of winning the number one shirt at the club. Romero will not be happy in the fact that he could be the third-choice goalkeeper at the club and recently, he has been linked with Leeds United, who won promotion to the Premier League last season. Now Chelsea and even Everton seem to be interested in the player.

According to ESPN, the potential availability of a player like Romero could see the likes of Chelsea, Everton and even Leeds make a move for the Argentinian who could become the number one goalkeeper at all three clubs, given the chance. It would seem likely that this is not going to happen at United, otherwise it would have happened by now with De Gea’s downfall happening over the last two seasons, if not longer. It is suggested that United would be looking for around £5 million for the goalkeeper.

The goalkeeper initially signed a three-year contract in the summer of 2015 when he arrived at the club as a free agent and signed a four year contract in the summer of 2017, which will expire in the summer of 2021, although United have the option of adding a further year onto that contract. Chelsea have also been linked to Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ten Stegen, which is not going to happen and Ajax’s Andre Onana, plus Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster, formerly of United.

It may not end up being Chelsea who sign Romero, but his availability this summer, if both De Gea and Henderson are to battle for the number one shirt, could lead to an exit. One report in The Sun has linked the Argentinian to Aston Villa with United aiming to use the player, according to the reports, as a sweetener to signing Jack Grealish this summer, which is something that I am taking with a pinch of salt. It could well be that Romero will end his United career this summer and aim for a few years playing as the number one goalkeeper.

Written by John Walker

Sergio Romero talks about Manchester United’s secret weapon in the Europa League

Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero believes that his club possesses a secret weapon run their pursuit of UEFA Europa League glory for the second time in three seasons. The Argentinian has played in eight of the ten matches played in the competition this season and flew to Germany ahead of their quarter-final match against FC Copenhagen on Monday evening earlier on Sunday. Should United win this match, they will set up a semi-final place against either Wolverhampton Wanderers of Sevilla, which should be a good match.

Romero believes that this close-knit squad has an advantage over their opposition this season after they have achieved their first objective of reaching the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in the Premier League, which was something that seems unlikely at the time football was suspended with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the country into lockdown. However, United clawed back the 14 points Leicester City had over them, finishing four points clear over the team which lifted the Premier League in the 2015/16 season. Romero, speaking to the official Manchester United website, said:

“In Argentina, we say these are ‘vida o muerte ‘, life-and-death games because, if you win, you progress. But, if you lose, you’re going home.

“The fact is it will be decided by one-off games that you have to win. Anything can always happen in a game, your focus and mindset always need to be spot on, and your legs have to always respond.

“As a group of players, if we have a team-mate who is struggling a bit on the day, all the lads have to give him a lift, so he can compete in the game in the best possible way.

“For sure, every bit of work and effort every day in training, as well as all our dreams are focused on getting United back to another Europa League final.

“So, we’re going to work hard for that to happen.”

This season, Romero has played just 16 times this season, eight times in the Europa League (so far), five times in the FA Cup and three times in the Carabao Cup, keeping 11 clean sheets and conceding five goals. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could decide to stick with the Argentinian against Copenhagen and possibly in each match that United play in, which would show the confidence the manager has in the player. For Romero to concede just five goals this season in 16 appearances, it shows that he is a decent goalkeeper and ready for the challenge.

Solskjaer has taken a big squad to Germany for the rest of the Europa League campaign, which could last just one match, two matches or three if United go all the way to the final. All three matches will be played at the same stadium in Cologne, so that is a bonus for United, who will not need to travel around Germany en-route to the final, if they actually get there. United have a good chance of winning the competition this season and United’s players should ensure they get there.

Whilst United do not need to win the competition to earn a place in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, like there did three seasons ago, they are playing for pride and the fact that the squad is now a young and progressive squad who have grown as a team and have risen to the challenges that have been thrown at them. Obviously, there is room to grow and lost of rebuilding left which could ensure the squad challenge for the Premier League title and beyond, which is what Solskjaer will be wanting to do at the club.

Written by John Walker

David De Gea’s Manchester United future cast doubt upon by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has admitted that he will need to make a difficult decision in order to choose who to make his first choice goalkeeper next season. David De Gea has endured a turbulent season with some mistakes costing United dearly, especially against Chelsea in the semi-final of the Emirates FA Cup only a matter of weeks ago. This poor form has caused lost of speculation which has seen Dean Henderson aim to take De Gea’s shirt in the not too distant future.

United number two, Sergio Romero is a great quality goalkeeper and has played in eight of the ten matches played in the UEFA Europa League this season and looks set to be trusted in goal against FC Copenhagen in the quarter-finals of the competition, which will be played on Cologne on Monday evening. Dean Henderson is another top quality goalkeeper who has done well in his first season in the Premier League whilst he was on loan with Sheffield United.

De Gea has been a great goalkeeper for much of his time at United, which is almost a decade. He literally became the player that kept United together during the turbulent time which saw United managed by David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, being named as the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year four times in five seasons; 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18. Ander Herrera (2016/17) and Luke Shaw (2018/19) won the award during the other two seasons.

So far this season, De Gea has played in the Premier League, starting all 38 matches, also playing twice in the Carabao Cup and once in each of the Emirates FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League. The Spaniard has kept a total of 15 clean sheets, conceding 43 goals. Romero has played eight times in the Europa League (so far), five times in the FA Cup and three times in the Carabao Cup, keeping 11 clean sheets and conceding five goals. Solskjaer feels that having three decent goalkeepers is a good problem to have with The Mirror reporting:

“I think I must be the most privileged manager in the world with the goalkeeping department.

“Sergio [Romero], David [De Gea] and Dean [Henderson]. Three top ‘keepers. This season has shown how important Sergio has been for us. David has been performing there.

“We’ll see what we’ll do going forward. Difficult? Yes. But that’s a good problem to have.”

Henderson, playing for Sheffield United, made 36 appearances in the Premier League with four more in the FA Cup. He kept a total of 14 clean sheets, conceding 37 goals in total. Solskjaer feels that it would be near enough impossible to satisfy all three goalkeepers next season with all of them craving minutes for United plus to add to that, Lee Grant is also in contention, in his final season at the club. Concluding his comments about the goalkeeper situation, Solskjaer talked about competition for places, which is something he is looking to have, saying:

“I think as you say, competition for places is important and we’re looking to have competition for places.

“We have Dean, Sergio and David at the moment in the ranks. Lee [Grant], the fantastic professional he is, is backing them up. But it’ll be difficult obviously to keep three of them at the club, so we’ll see what the decision will be there.”

It could be a battle for the number on shirt at United this summer and depending on what happens with Henderson, the likes of De Gea and Romero will be vying for the honour to lead United as the number one goalkeeper. If this speculation helps De Gea find his form once again, great. If not, then United will be in good hands as they look to start again with a rookie goalkeeper in the ranks, if Henderson ends up staying at the club with Sheffield United seemingly wanting him at the club for another season and Chelsea also holding interest in the player.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United goalkeeper wants showdown talks over future at the club

Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero wants to hold showdown talks with the Old Trafford club over his future there, according to The Sun. Dean Henderson could well be heading back to the Theatre of Dreams this summer, despite reports which link him to Sheffield United for another season on loan. However, the Argentinian goalkeeper has just 12 months remaining on his contract and will be annoyed that David De Gea was not dropped after a period of poor form leading up to and during the Emirates FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

Romero does have the option of a further year to be added to his contract, so United will not be losing the goalkeeper this summer, unless he wants to leave. He has been linked to Leeds United, who will be returning to the Premier League next season after 16 years out of the top flight of English football. The 33-year-old did not feature for the club in the Premier League this season, only featuring in the cup competitions but was dropped at the semi-final stage against Chelsea, despite having a better record in goal that De Gea this season, playing fewer matches of course.

The goalkeeper will be keen to leave the club if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer states that he has little to offer the club as a first team player. It is likely that he will play in the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League which returns next month with United having to tie up the round of 16 stage of the competition after beating LASK 5-0 in the first leg, welcoming the Austrian side to the Theatre of Dreams next Wednesday. Whether Romero plays after that remains to be seen as the rest of the knockout stage will be one match, rather that two legs all the way to the final.

Romero has been at the Old Trafford club for five years and was signed by Louis van Gaal during the summer of 2015, arriving as a free agent from Sampdoria. This season, Romero has made a total of 15 appearances, conceding four goals and keeping 11 clean sheets. During his time at United, Romero has made 59 appearances for the club, conceding 26 goals and keeping 38 clean sheets. He is one of, if not the best second choice goalkeeper in the Premier League, despite making seven appearances in the league.

Looking at the number of goalkeepers at the club right now, if Henderson decides to stay at United and fight it out to become the number one goalkeeper, Romero will likely move to third choice at the club, replacing Lee Grant, who will become the fourth choice goalkeeper, having another year left on his contract at the club. It will not be a predicament that the Argentinian will be seeking to be in and might decide to weigh up his options this summer, leaving United after five years.

That said, it is likely that Henderson will spend another season on loan at Sheffield United, a club he has done well at, rising up from the Championship and playing well in his first season in the Premier League. This would leave things as they are and might placate Romero during his final season at the club, which might end up being his penultimate if United decide to extend his contract with the extra year agreed during his last contract renewal. You can understand why the player is seeking talks as he will need to know where his future lies.

Written by John Walker

Leeds United target Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa is believed to be interested in signing Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero, 32, this summer ahead of the clubs long-awaited return to the Premier League. Long awaited for them, not me. I could not care a less, to be honest. It has been 16 glorious years since Leeds were a team to be contended with in the Premier League and despite them thinking they will return for evermore, there are no guarantees of that – just looking at Norwich City’s stay.

Bielsa is considered to be one fo the best managers in the lower league of the game and it will be good to see what he can do in the Premier League as a manager – just to see if he has the skills and experience to do things that other recently promoted teams have seemingly failed to do. This summer, it is reported by The Sun that one of their main courses of business will be to sign a new goalkeeper, presumably one with Premier League experience.

Romero is not the only target for Leeds and Bielsa with Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, 27, also named in the report. Both Romero and Martinez are Argentinian, just like Bielsa, so I guess that is the main link, other than both goalkeepers having experience in the Premier League. It would be a shame to see Romero leave the club but you cannot blame him for wanting to have one last go at being the first choice goalkeeper at a club, although he has been happy to be the number two for the past five years.

If United decide to allow Romero to leave the club this summer, with the return of Dean Henderson from his loan spell with Sheffield United, it could see a battle between the 23-year-old and David De Gea, 29, for the number on shirt at the club, which could bring out the best of both players. However, it will probably end up that Henderson is loaned to the Blades for another season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keeping an eye on the player’s progress during the course of the season.

Romero has played sparingly for United this season, making 15 appearances for the club this season, playing in the UEFA Europa League, Emirates FA Cup and the Carabao Cup. He has conceded just four goals, keeping 11 clean sheets. It is likely that the Argentinian is played in at least the next Europa League match, the round of 16 second leg against LASK at Old Trafford on the 5 August 2020. Earlier this week, in an exclusive report by The Metro, which is probably not something to live your life by, it was suggested that Romero was thinking about his future at United.

After being overlooked to replace De Gea against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend, a competition he has started every round of, it was suggested that the Argentinian was ‘really down’ about being overlooked. It was suggested that De Gea could have been dropped ahead of the clash with West Ham United on Wednesday but Solskjaer stuck by the goalkeeper with the club earning just a point from that match when they could have sought more, securing their place in the league before the final match of the season. I don’t personally think that these rumours will stop this summer.

Written by John Walker

Looking at Manchester United’s defensive depth for the 2019/20 season

Manchester United did well during the summer transfer window, adding Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who signed from Crystal Palace and Harry Maguire, who arrived from Leicester City. It was a summer that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed to pay attention to the defence, which allowed more than 50 goals to be conceded in the Premier League along last season.

Solskjaer spent £125 million; £80 million for Maguire and an initial £45 million for Wan-Bissaka giving some much-needed defensive ability ahead of the 2019/20 season in which United would be tasked with chasing the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, to regain a place in the top four of the league.

United finished sixth last season, five points adrift of a place in the top four, which could have been much different if United managed to beat both Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City at the end of the season. However, hindsight is only fantastic when you look back as if you change two factors, other factors may have had to change also.

Goalkeeper depth; Solskjaer does not need to worry in this area.

Solskjaer has three great first-team options in goal this season; David De Gea, Sergio Romero and Lee Grant. That will be the order of importance in the squad. The club also had the likes of Dean Henderson, Joel Pereira and Kieran O’Hara, who have all been loaned out to Sheffield United, Hearts of Midlothian and Burton Albion respectively.

De Gea will be the go-to guy to start the majority of matches, namely in the Premier League. As for the Carabao Cup, the UEFA Europa League and the Emirates FA Cup, it could well be Romero who features, as he did in the cup competitions last season, other than the UEFA Champions League, of course. Grant could be a shoo-in for matches in these competitions too.

It was hoped that Henderson could have been afforded time in the Premier League this season but with De Gea’s contract being extended by the extra year agreed to in 2015, it was unlikely that he would be the first option in the goalkeeping ranks, however, he will get that Premier League experience he craved for, which might do him some good.

Fullback depth; Solskjaer’s options are much improved this season.

Last season, United’s defence left a lot to be desired. First of all, in the fullback position, Jose Mourinho, who started the season as manager, then Solskjaer had Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian, Luke Shaw, and Diogo Dalot to choose from in both the left-back and right-back positions. Not a lot of pace, or youth for that matter.

Valencia was on the sidelines for much of the season, leaving the other four to contend for places in the squad. Young was often criticised, as way Shaw. Dalot was too inexperienced, but gave his all and Darmian seldom played. This season though, after the departure of Valencia, Wan-Bissaka arrived and has improved the position greatly.

Both Wan-Bissaka and Shaw will face competition from Young and Dalot, who can both play on the left or the right. Darmian may still play a part despite his future up in the air, although his current contract will expire at the end of the season. The fullback role is looking good for the current season with youth coming through the ranks to add more competition.

Central defensive depth; the strongest defence in six years?

Solskjaer has Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Harry Maguire, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe in his ranks for the current season. There was the rumour of Rojo likely to depart before the closure of the European transfer window at the start of September, but it is just rumour right now. With seven players, there is some depth in this area.

Bailly is injured until the Christmas period, meaning Solskjaer has six players contesting two positions in the squad. Lindelof and Maguire secured the central defensive area in the 4-0 victory over Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend and will be expected to resume their positions against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday evening.

In case of injury to either Lindelof or Maguire, or the need for rotation, Tuanzebe will be a great option for Solskjaer as he did well during pre-season and learned some valuable things on loan with Aston Villa last season. The likes of Jones and Smalling could also be considered. Rojo not so much, based on pre-season appearances.

The depth of this squad is pretty good, despite the moaning for central midfield signings during the summer transfer window. Solskjaer will have had targets and if it was not possible to sign them, panic buying was just going to create more problems in the future with many players on high wages and unable to be moved on; Alexis Sanchez for instance.

United have many options in different areas; a minimum of three players, counting those already in the first team this season, which are players who have already made their debuts for the club in the recent years. In some positions, United has four sometimes five options, based on my opinion on where they would be able to play in the 4-2-3-1 formation.

This is the formation which Solskjaer has used more often than not, and a formation which will get the best out of the attacking players, using their hunger, determination and more importantly, their pace to launch attacking and counter-attacking plays during matches. Solskjaer’s identity seems to be young, courage and success.

Above, you can see the 4-2-3-1 formation, keeping an eye on the defence where there is a minimum of three players for each position, listed in order of importance to the squad. At fullback, both Wan-Bissaka and Shaw seem to be safe, although the emergence of Dalot could change that, more for Shaw, if he does not improve as he should have.

In the centre of defence, Lindelof and Maguire are certain to start more matches together, fitness and injury aside, but in that instance, there is some depth which could help get United through a difficult time. Tuanzebe, at least for me, is trusted more than the likes of Jones and Smalling; Bailly is at the bottom because of injury at the present time.

If the Ivorian improves his game, he could add more competition for either centre-back, which in turn will inspire players to perform to the best of their ability in order to keep their place. Competition is the best thing to bring the best out of players. This defence could achieve a lot; first of all to ensure they concede fewer than 54 goals this season.

Manchester United have proven to be finders of good ‘keepers. But what lies in store for them?

Game after game, season after season, David De Gea regularly thwarted Manchester United’s opponents with scarcely believable saves. It was for this reason that he has been forgiven by the club’s fan-base after a poor end to the 2018/19 season, where only a few United players excelled. Despite this loss of form, De Gea’s quality was never in doubt and he is on the verge of signing a new contract with the club.

United also recently tied down the highly-rated Dean Henderson, who is yet to appear for the first-team, to a new deal. The club now finds itself well-stocked in the goalkeeping department and Henderson’s loan to newly-promoted Sheffield United could leave the club in an even better position this time next year. De Gea is the club’s undisputed number one and that is unlikely to change in the near future.

The Spaniard, who joined United in 2011 as a replacement for legendary custodian Edwin van der Sar, has been a consistent performer for the club since the 2013/14 season, having only shown flashes of his abilities in the seasons prior. These initial struggles seemed to stem from the time it took him to settle, both in England and at United. After almost leaving the club in 2015, he signed a new deal which is again on the verge of extension.

The new deal is likely to keep him at United well into his 30s, which means the club will have been the benefactors of his peak years as a goalkeeper. The former Atletico Madrid player also finds himself a candidate for the role of United captain, which is unsurprising as he often leads by example through his performances. He has also been a role model for the younger players at the club and has previously been captain of Spain’s U21 team.

Sergio Romero has served as De Gea’s deputy since the 2015/16 season. The Argentine was signed by his former AZ Alkmaar manager Louis van Gaal during the Dutchman’s term as United manager. Romero arrived on a free transfer from Sampdoria as a replacement for De Gea, who eventually ended up staying at the club. The 32 year old possesses a wealth of experience in various leagues, having also played for AS Monaco in France and Racing Club in his homeland.

This transfer proved to be a bargain for United as Romero, formerly Argentina’s first-choice goalkeeper, has performed reliably when called upon, even playing a key role in United’s triumph in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League. Romero also boasts 27 clean sheets in just 45 appearances for the club, giving him the most clean sheets per game by any United ‘keeper to have played more than three competitive games for the club in its history.

It is conceivable that he may decide to move back to Argentina in the future or step back at United to allow the club to make room for a younger deputy, particularly if one of the on-loan youngsters excels in the 2019/20 season. Lee Grant meanwhile, was signed by the club last year to serve as third-choice, thereby allowing United’s younger goalkeepers to go on loans to gain experience and speed up their development.

The 36 year old previously received a Man of the Match award at Old Trafford, after spectacularly thwarting United for Stoke City in a 1-1 draw in the 2016/17 Premier League. Despite only making a single competitive appearance for the club, Grant boasts a wealth of experience in the lower tiers of English football as well as the Premier League. Upon signing for the club, he mentioned that he still has much to learn, even at his age.

Having been the only native English-speaker in United’s goalkeeping department prior to this summer, Grant took to learning Spanish so as to better communicate with colleagues De Gea and Romero, as well as goalkeeping coach Emilio Alvarez. He is likely to retire soon and take up a coaching role at the club. While still a player, he represents a safety net for the first-team, in the event that one of their regular ‘keepers is side-lined.

Joel Castro Pereira currently finds himself outside United’s plans for the 2019/20 season. The Swiss-born Portuguese stopper has yet to fully convince any of his loan clubs and has been in and out of their teams over the course of his loan spells. Previous United manager and compatriot José Mourinho hailed Pereira as Portugal’s next number one goalkeeper, praise which he has since failed to justify.

That being said, the fact that he is still at United at the age of 23, suggests that the club feel that he is still far from his peak and they are willing to continue his development. He is probably going to spend the next year on loan so he can get more playing time. Pereira still has plenty of time on his side to fulfil his potential but he needs to start kicking on now to reward United’s patience with him and perhaps step up to take over a role from one of Romero or Grant.

Dean Henderson enjoyed a terrific season on loan at Sheffield United in 2018/19, helping them to promotion to the Premier League. He has since signed a new deal with United and re-joined the Blades on loan for the 2019/20 season, where he will likely be the first-choice goalkeeper in the Premier League. This is a considerable boost to the development of the Cumbrian, who has been on the radar of English national team manager Gareth Southgate, despite having never played in England’s top division.

A good 2019/20 season for Henderson would give United a welcome headache, as they would either have to make room for him in their goalkeeping department or sell him. At just 22, he is the youngest of all the ‘keepers with first-team experience on United’s books and still has many years left at a high level. Henderson also has a different set of skills to those currently in United’s first-team, having the good footwork and distribution associated with more modern goalkeepers.

He has also stated that he believes he can be United’s number one ‘keeper in the future and this is certainly the attitude required to succeed at the club. United also have a few other goalkeepers on their books, namely Kieran O’Hara, Matej Kovar, and Alex Fojticek. English-born O’Hara, 23, will spend the 2019/20 season on loan at Burton Albion in England’s League One. It is unlikely that he has a future at the club, unless he is willing to fight for second or third-choice at United.

This would be unwise, particularly as he is under consideration for the Irish national team and would be more likely to get more game time at a smaller club, in order to further his development. Under-19 Czech Republic and Slovakia internationals Kovar and Fojticek will battle it out for the spot of reserve team goalkeeper for the 2019/20 season. Kovar has previously trained with the first-team after injury side-lined one of their regulars and this is likely to continue in the 2019/20 season.

Both he and Fojticek will continue their development with the reserves and will only be promoted to the first-team as short-term cover. United will be looking to assess their options with regard to these players at the end of the season, particularly as the recent drive to recruit highly-rated youngsters from other clubs hasn’t included any goalkeepers. The club has instead opted to continue the development of players already at the club, showing faith in these players.

To conclude, it is the preference of most United supporters that Henderson be integrated into the first-team as soon as possible. If he proves himself to be a reliable, Premier League-level goalkeeper, the club would undoubtedly find it harder to hold on to him. Having said that, United have gone about refreshing their squad with younger, more exciting players for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co. to develop.

Henderson and Pereira are goalkeepers in this mould and should be included in the club’s plans for the future, perhaps ahead of the ageing Romero and Grant.

Written by Shiven Nayager

What does it take to be Manchester United number one and does Sergio Romero have it?

David De Gea is Manchester United’s current number one goalkeeper and is arguably the best keeper in the world also winning Manchester United’s Player of the Year for four out of the last five years. Understandably this has not gone unnoticed with Real Madrid at the forefront of transfer talks.

De Gea has been continuously linked with a move to the La Liga giants since his transfer at the end of the 2015 summer transfer window broke down at the 11th hour and it is no secret that returning manager Zinedine Zidane is a big admirer of the goalkeeper as he looks to rebuild Real Madrid’s first team. United have still not agreed on terms to a contract extension and with De Gea’s current contract ending at the end of the season, many fans are starting to wonder how the club will cope without the Spaniard.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as Sergio Romero, United’s number two is widely argued as the world’s best number two goalkeeper.  The Argentine, who is the Argentina national team’s first choice of goalkeeper, has proven his worth many times over the few years he has been at the club with world class displays against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Valencia. Romero, who was signed by the club in July 2015, was also the starting goalkeeper in all 12 games of United’s successful Europa League campaign facing teams like Ajax and Fenerbahce.

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Goalkeepers are one of the most important players on a football pitch being the last line of defence and the first line of attack and United are renowned for having a world class shot stopper between the posts and have a long list of famous names to prove it.

One of the most famous is the Danish Keeper Peter Schmeichel who was a member of the class of 92 and a big part in the establishment of United as a super-club when he captained them to the treble in 1999 during the Champions League final. He also won UEFA Euro 1992 with Denmark. He is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers of all time and was inducted into the English football’s Hall of Fame for his impact in the game.

The second is United legend Edwin van der Sar who signed for the Red Devils in 2005 and is considered by Sir Alex Ferguson to be the best goalkeeper to have played for the club since Peter Schmeichel. He is best remembered for his penalty save in the 2008 Champions League final to secure the trophy for the club. The Dutchman also holds the record for most clean sheets at the UEFA European Championship with nine clean sheets.

Fabien Barthez is also on the list of world-class keepers that have defended the net for United and is the only goalkeeper for United that has won a World Cup, which he won with France in 1998 and got to the World Cup Final in 2006 after which he retired. During his career he was widely rated by pundits as the best of his generation and one of the best in the world, winning the Premier League twice with United.

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Every single goalkeeper that puts on the gloves for the Red Devils has to be able to play to the highest level in order to reach the expectations of the fans and the club. They need to be able to organise the defence and keep the line organised for the full match as well as having an excellent distribution of the ball in order to start the attack. The better the distribution, the better chance of a goal scoring opportunity.

David De Gea has all these traits as well as lightning fast reflexes that he has proven time and time again. His ability to deal with crosses has greatly improved after showing room for development in his first season at the club. However, when it comes to De Gea and Romero it is commonly a case of anything you can do, I can do just as well with the Argentine easily stepping up to the plate when the manager calls upon him, doing the job well each time.

While De Gea is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, and all United fans will be hoping he stays at the club, they can rest assured knowing that Romero is well and truly up to the job of being De Geas replacement and United’s future number one goalkeeper.

Written by Chris Kaye

copyright: JW