Connect in the back of the net

Despite being the most-capped Argentine goalkeeper of all time, Sergio Romero has struggled for attention at club level over the past couple of years. Now, a free-agent after being released by Sampdoria, the Argentina number one is being courted by some of the biggest club sides in Europe.

The 28-year-old needs a decent transfer and after his admirable service at international level he deserves the opportunity to prove his talents.

 

Who is Sergio Romero?

There are none more established international stars who have experienced such a strange and difficult career as Sergio Romero. Born in the northern city of Bernado de Irigoyen, deep into the province of Misiones, Romero moved as a teenager to Buenos Aires province after being spotted by Club Almirante Brown.

Already standing over six feet tall, Romero had already earned his nickname of ‘Chiquito’ as a result of being the youngest of three brothers and his brother Diego, a professional basketball player, being significantly taller.

Racing Club’s famed academy soon snapped up the young Romero and he signed his first professional contract with La Academia aged nineteen. Despite some years in Avellaneda, young Chiquito made just five first team appearances before Louis van Gaal’s AZ Alkmaar side snapped him up at the end of the 2007 season.

A difficult first season in Holland meant Romero spent a lot of time on the bench but the following season he established himself as Van Gaal’s number one as Alkmaar were crowned Eredivisie champions for only the second time. Romero kept 18 clean sheets in the season and the following season came close to a Dutch record after not conceding a goal for 950 minutes.

These impressive statistics and having already established himself in the Argentina side prompted Serie B side Sampdoria to pay €2.1 million for the keeper and in his first season in helped the club back into the Italian top flight.

However, just as Romero became more and more of a permanent fixture in the Argentina starting eleven despite changes of management, his status at club level declined. Eventually loaned out to Monaco, Chiquito still found himself struggling for playing time behind the Croatian first-choice keeper, Danijel Subasic and returned to Sampdoria at the end of the 2013-14 season.

Matters in Genoa had not improved after a year away but in spite of this Gerardo Martino followed all his predecessors in naming Romero his first-choice for the Copa America. This run in the side saw Chiquito overtake Ubaldo Fillol as the most-capped goalkeeper in Argentine history and cement his place in national side history.

Romero’s greatest successes have undoubtedly come in Argentine colours and during the World Cup in Brazil he truly announced himself on the international scene. Few Argentina fans will forget the sight of Javier Mascherano screaming “You’re going to become a hero” before Romero stopped penalties from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder to send La Albiceleste to the World Cup final.

Ultimately, Romero’s career, like all his current Argentina teammates, is a series of what-might-have-beens after narrowly missing out on two major tournaments. Now though, his career needs the club move that a keeper of his status warrants.

 

Manchester United and Real Madrid lead the chase

A 28-year-old, 62-times capped international, available on a free-transfer it is no wonder that there is intense interest in Romero. Newspaper reports suggest that Roma, Real Madrid and Manchester United have all met with his agent to discuss possible terms since his client was released by Sampdoria.

Perhaps the possible transfer of David De Gea may change the market for goalkeepers, particularly when it comes to Manchester United and Real Madrid, but current reports suggest it is Louis van Gaal’s side who are poised to seal the deal.

A three-year-deal worth €1.8 million-per-year is close to completion and will see Romero finally move to one of Europe’s elite clubs.

The link with Louis van Gaal may have been the tipping point in these negotiations but, with United ready to dispense with Victor Valdes, there is a need for a goalkeeper regardless of whether De Gea stays or goes.

As backup to De Gea, Romero should still see plenty of playing time with United back in the Champions League and at least this will see him playing at the highest level.

At 28 years of age, and as a goalkeeper, Sergio Romero should have his best years ahead of him and so he could still add plenty to his already burgeoning number of caps with Argentina.

For whichever club he ends up at, they might be picking up a real bargain.

 

Written by Peter Coates

Follow Peter on Twitter @golazoargentino

You can check out more of his excellent work on Argentinian football through his website, Golazo Argentino

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