Making the most of his opportunity

REUTERS

Sergio Romero has been the one to benefit from David de Gea’s absence from the Manchester United team, with manager Louis van Gaal deciding to omit the Spaniard from the match-day squad for all three matches this term as he feels the Spaniard cannot focus properly due to Real Madrid’s interest in him, writes Paul Hirst.

Sergio Romero could be forgiven for being the only member of staff at Manchester United who wants David de Gea to leave the club.

Romero has been the one to benefit from de Gea’s absence from the team, with Louis van Gaal deciding to omit the Spaniard from the match-day squad for all three matches this term as the United manager feels the Spaniard cannot focus properly due to Real Madrid’s interest in him.

It remains to be seen how long the situation will continue but Romero is making the most of his opportunity and made his third appearance of the season when United beat Club Brugge 3-1 in their Champions League play-off first leg at Old Trafford.

Real are determined to sign the 24-year-old de Gea before the transfer window shuts on September 1, but Romero unselfishly hopes the club’s number one stays even though that would put his place in the team in jeopardy.

“The truth is that I have no idea (if he will leave), but for me I hope that de Gea stays here because he’s a good teammate who always works hard and that is best for the group,” the Argentinian goalkeeper said.

Having conceded defeat in their bid to persuade Madrid to give them Sergio Ramos in return for de Gea, the Red Devils are now holding out for a fee of over GBP35 million for the goalkeeper.

The situation de Gea finds himself in is far from ideal, Romero admits.

“It is a difficult situation for him but when one is a great professional like he is and when one has a good head like his you keep training to get better day by day because you never know, he could play any time,” said the free signing, who was released by Sampdoria earlier this summer.

“He is a great team-mate, a great professional, a great person. It happened to me last year in Sampdoria. I was not playing but I was working as if I was going to play.”

United signed Romero four days before the end of their pre-season tour after Van Gaal put Victor Valdes up for sale because he refused to play for the reserves, according to the United boss.

Although he has played in a World Cup and Copa America final, Romero admits it came as something of a shock to be ahead of Valdes and de Gea in the pecking order at Old Trafford.

When asked whether he thought it was a surprise neither Valdes nor de Gea were playing, Romero said: “Yes. They are two fantastic goalkeepers. One has won everything and the other has his career ahead of him to continue to win things. For me it’s a privilege and it makes me happy to work with those two.”

Despite already having four goalkeepers on the books, Romero had little hesitation breaking off his holiday to accept an invitation to be reunited with his former coach at AZ Alkmaar, Louis van Gaal.

Romero said: “At the end of the Copa America, I was relaxing in my house and I received a call from the coach to tell me about this possibility and when a club so big with such global prestige wants you, the decision is very quick, so I said: ‘I have to be in the United States right now’ to sign the contract.

“I’m so happy now to be working with him in this great club.”

His performances so far suggest United could still be in safe hands even if de Gea moves on.

© PA Sport