Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has confirmed he signed Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Romero as a response to continued speculation David De Gea will join Real Madrid.
The Red Devils unveiled Romero in the early hours of Monday morning—due to the club's current pre-season tour of the United States:
Manchester United @ManUtd
Good morning, Europe! While you were asleep, we signed Sergio Romero... http://t.co/veVu578Q7g #WelcomeRomero http://t.co/czvBgJpQKz2015-7-27 05:31:02
Van Gaal was keen to improve his options in goal amid a time of uncertainty, as he told Sky Sports News:
With the threat that David De Gea is going to Real Madrid, we had to prepare our season.
I think Sergio Romero can fulfil that because you have to handle quickly what may happen with David De Gea. I think he is a very good choice. He is the Argentinian goalkeeper. He has international experience. I know him very good because I picked him when he was 19 years old to AZ Alkmaar, my former club.
I know him. I also know his character so I hope he can have a contribution to our selection and I have confidence he can give that.
The Dutch boss also spoke to MUTV, telling the club's in-house channel that United must "make sure that we are prepared" for De Gea's exit, reported Mark Froggatt of the side's official website. LvG provided further comment to Sky Sports (h/t Audioboom):
Van Gaal previously suggested No. 2 'keeper Victor Valdes has no future at the club after he refused to play for the reserves. Although Valdes responded to this criticism with a tweet showing his time in the under-21 squad, he is expected to move on, per Simon Stone of BBC Sport.
James Robson of the Manchester Evening News believes Romero is a replacement for Valdes, not De Gea:
James Robson @JamesRobsonMEN
Romero signed as replacement for Valdes not DDG. United will be in the market for a 1st choice if De Gea joins Real Madrid2015-7-27 08:01:50
Marca (h/t Kieran Gill of the MailOnline) reported United have "lost hope" that De Gea will sign a new contract. However, Van Gaal "is prepared" to let the Spaniard run down his current agreement and depart on a free next summer, a tactic that would provide him ample time to replace the world-class stopper with an alternative No. 1.
De Gea performed excellently during his first pre-season appearance of the tour, making a handful of key saves in the 3-1 win over Barcelona. His reactions have always been sharp, but he continues to progress in his willingness to attack crosses and ability to stand tall in the United goal.
Until De Gea says otherwise, it's worth taking his transfer to Madrid as an inevitability. While Van Gaal can be commended for snapping Romero up on a free—if he fails to impress, so be it—United must be ready to spend big on their next long-term 'keeper.
Valdes' situation is a sad one, especially as he could slot straight into the main role for United. Romero has plenty of doubters to prove wrong after being let go by Sampdoria and Monaco, but he'll turn out to be a smart capture if he's added with squad depth in mind.
Van Gaal's comments, and indeed business, suggests he is expecting movement on the De Gea front. United have done excellently to nurture the goalkeeper into Spain's best, but they cannot begrudge him a move back home after his performances across the last two years.