Tuesday 16 January 2018

Louis van Gaal fires warning to David de Gea: You must fight for number one jersey

De Gea and Romero will battle it out for the number one jersey at Manchester United
De Gea and Romero will battle it out for the number one jersey at Manchester United

Mark Ogden

Louis van Gaal has warned David de Gea that he must fight off competition from Sergio Romero to retain his place in the Manchester United team after handing the Argentina goalkeeper a three-year contract at Old Trafford.

Romero, 28, could make his United debut against Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago on Wednesday after linking up with Van Gaal’s squad in California at the weekend following the completion of his free transfer from Sampdoria.

While talks are continuing between United and PSG over the sale of Angel di Maria to the French champions – the two clubs remain some distance apart on the valuation of the winger – Romero’s arrival has eased the uncertainty over the club’s goalkeeping situation with Real Madrid expected to intensify efforts to sign De Gea before the transfer deadline on September 1.

But while Van Gaal concedes that United could still lose De Gea to Real this summer, the manager insists that the Spaniard will not be automatic first-choice if he remains at Old Trafford.

"In our circumstances, with the threat that De Gea is going to Real Madrid, we have to prepare our season and I think Sergio Romero can fulfil that," Van Gaal said. “You have to handle the situation very quickly if it (transfer) may happen with De Gea.

"I have of course spoken with Sergio and also with David and, with me, always the best shall be in the line-up.

David De Gea makes a flying save to deny Luis Suarez
David De Gea makes a flying save to deny Luis Suarez

“So you have to fight and I think in a top club as Manchester United, you need always competition."

United have made their move for Romero following the end of his contract at Sampdoria, with Van Gaal being reunited with the ‘keeper after working with him at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar between 2007 and 2009.

Romero came to prominence at the World Cup last year, when penalty saves from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder during Argentina’s semi-final shoot-out victory over Van Gaal’s Holland earned his country a place in the final against Germany.

“Sergio is a very talented goalkeeper,” Van Gaal said. “He was a young keeper during my time at AZ and I am delighted he is joining United.

“He had a fantastic World Cup last summer in Brazil, although that is something I have put to the back of my mind!

“He will be a great addition to the team and I am looking forward to working with him once again.”

Although United are expected to pursue a move for Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen should De Gea leave for Real, Romero’s arrival will hasten the departures of current back-up ‘keepers Victor Valdes and Anders Lindegaard.

And he insists that he is determined to meet the challenge at Old Trafford after being re-united with Van Gaal.

“Louis van Gaal is the kind of boss who puts you at ease and, from the first moment that I was given the goalkeeper shirt by him in 2007, he told me that I would play an important part in his squad,” Romero said.

“It was a vital period for me because, from the moment I signed for him, my career started to really take off. He is someone who has been very important in my life.

“He helped me a lot when I arrived in Holland. He is very honest and open as a person, he helps and reassures you and he cares about every player and every member of staff.”

While Romero’s bond with Van Gaal has paved the way for his move to United, the Dutchman’s fragile relationship with Di Maria has accelerated the £59.7m record signing’s desire to leave the club.

However, while United are open to selling the 27-year-old, PSG’s offer of an initial €40m (£28.5m) is substantially below United’s valuation of around £45m for the player.

Di Maria has not reported for training with United in the States, but it is understood that his absence is due to the ongoing negotiations rather than a protest by the player.

Marcos Rojo, meanwhile, is still to fly to the States due to the defender failing to renew his passport prior to his planned departure from Argentina last Saturday.

United are due to fly from their base in San Jose, California, on Tuesday to Chicago ahead of Wednesday's clash with PSG at Soldier Field.

Read more: Magnificent seven becomes a Manchester United curse


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