With the January window all wrapped up, the next natural step is to start debating about our summer plans. I already can’t contain my excitement for the upcoming links with Neymar, Ronaldo, Bale, and Donnarumma. I mean, for the love of all that is holy, we were linked with 113 players over the course of January! Can you imagine what the summer will bring?
Not to be a Debbie Downer, but we’re going to keep it real here and set realistic expectations. If you want garbage rumors, go here.
In part two of this five part series, we’re covering very early predictions of what goalkeepers are coming in and who will hit the road come July.
We are in a strange place with our current GK squad as DdG is one of the world’s top GK and our defense is solid, enough. However, DdG ranks 14th in the league for clean sheets (5), 16th in saves (65), and 17th in goals conceded (29). Romero is holding down the fort when it comes to our cup matches and Europa. Joel Pereira is out on loan (again), and have you heard how Dean Henderson, aka Deano, is doing this year? We’ll get to that.
Who am I missing? Oh yes, Lee Grant. How could I forget the poor lad who has not played in a Premier League match during his time with United?
That being said, we have some questions with our GK spots. Do we keep Romero around for our non-league matches? Will we continue to send Joel Pereira out on loan for eternity? Will we grant Deano’s wish and give him first team minutes with United? Let’s dig in!
There is not a shred of doubt that Lee Grant is out *cue cheesy “no doubt, he out!” slogan for future use* As I previously wrote, it was always going to be difficult for Grant to get minutes in front of arguably the one of the world’s best GKs, and the best backup keeper in the game. But Grant is getting older with an expiring contract come June ’20, and let’s not forget that he was in net for our lone Europa loss to FC Astana.
Therefore, (cough cough) no doubt, he out!
Romero is easily the best backup GK in the Premier League, possibly even Europe, and we have been spoiled to have him as our second option over these past years. But Romero is going to be 33 at the end of the month and one cannot imagine that he will remain content as a backup when he could easily start elsewhere. Rumors are already speculating that Romero wants a move for regular first-team minutes. He still has plenty left in the tank to go to another European club, possibly even within the Premier League, and get minutes in league matches. Fortunately for United, Romero will bring in a higher transfer fee than Pereira would, and both have contracts into June ’21. Unfortunately for United, this means we’re stuck with Pereira until his contract runs out.
Sit Down, You’re Going Nowhere: DdG v. Deano Special Edition
I know, I know. The section title may be considered misleading with us starting on Pereira. But why not get this one out of the way?
I struggle to understand our plans with the Portuguese U21 GK. He is 23 and has had five loan spells since ’15. What about appearances with United? One appearance in ‘17 in the League Cup against Burton Albion where he came in as a sub for Romero and conceded a last minute goal. Pereira signed a new four-year contract in ’17, when he was 20. I would like to say we’ll cut our loses with Pereira and let him leave in the summer, but who is going to buy him? We’ll run out his contract to the end of ’21 and let him leave on a free. Pereira won’t find first team minutes at United and will be the third choice GK behind DDG and Deano.
I received feedback on part one of this series where readers suggested we sell DdG in favor of Deano. First off, I’m thrilled that I have readers, PLURAL! No longer just my mom! Second, while I understand this notion and could see the advantages of cashing in now on DdG, there’s no way this is happening. Think of the investment we have already poured in to DdG? The only investment we haven’t made is for new fax machines at Carrington.
Dave Saves is under contract until ’23, plus the option for an additional year. In ’23, DdG will be 32 and I imagine that is when we will revisit the need for his services. Remember what we were all concerned about for the entirety of the ’17/’18 and ‘18/’19 seasons? When will DdG sign the extension! His case of the yips with Spain’s national team appear to be over and thankfully we didn’t make the same mistake Chelsea did with Kepa (no Kepa, you sit down!).
All that being said, Dave stays.
Remember when I asked, “have you heard how Deano is doing this year?” Well, how does this sound: tied for 1st in the Premier League with 9 clean sheets. This bad mama jama is only 22 and is taking the Premier League by storm with fans, pundits, and experts (no, not ESPNFC. I said experts) talking about him starting at GK over Pickford for England at Euros. Not impressed? Thinking Pickford is just a lad with little man syndrome that snuck his way onto England’s starting XI because the only other option was Joe Hart? Well, two weeks ago, Forbes posed this question: Is [Deano] Destined To Replace [DdG] At Manchester United? The short answer is yes, but not yet.
Deano will stick with United into next season, but I expect that he’ll take over Romero’s role as our non-league first choice GK. Sheffield United’s manager, Chris Wilder, says Deano won’t return to United to be the second choice GK behind DdG, but let’s not view his position that way. If we get into Champions League next year, then one could envision that DdG and Deano would split time in net throughout the year. Give the kid some time to learn under DdG and he’ll be ready to take the number one spot very soon.
You’re Going to Like the Way You Look in Red, I Guarantee It
Here’s a shocker for you: We are not signing a GK this summer. Why would we? We gave DdG a massive extension last September (get that money). Deano is absolutely crushing it to the point that Sheffield may punch a Europa ticket at 5th over us. Finally, we already signed a new 20-year-old GK in Nathan Bishop. Forget that one? Probably because the club announced it the day after Bruno.
Regardless, let’s speculate widely for the sake of entertainment!
Radu is a 6 ft. 2 in. on loan at Parma from Inter
Manchester United Milan and by the time the summer window opens, he’ll be 23 years old. In 17 matches this season, he’s kept 2 clean sheets and conceded 35 goals (ouch). How has he fared against Big Rom? In the words of my great aunt Barb when I ask her how she’s doing, “not great.” Radu gave up 4 goals to Inter in December, 2 of which were scored by Big Rom. Transfermarkt values Radu at $16.5m (level with Deano).
Lafont is the most likely successor of Hugo in terms of France’s starting GK. At 21, Lafont has been relatively successful this season while on loan at FC Nantes in Ligue 1 from Fiorentina. In 22 matches, he’s kept 9 clean sheets and conceded 22 goals. He would be an entertaining prospect to join the squad with his contract expiring in ’21, but one would imagine he’ll be suiting up for another big club. Potentially Arsenal circa ’18? Probably not, Arsenal only spend money on flops like Pepe. Transfermarkt values Lafont at $13.2m.
Remember Svilar’s Champions League debut in ’17 as an 18 year old? You should, it was against United and he was lights out impressive besides one massive mistake. Now 20, the Belgium U21 has started in all of Benefica’s 17 league matches, keeping 5 clean sheets and conceding 22 goals. When you look at Benefica’s previous GKs, two stand out: Ederson and Oblak. There must be something in the water over there and we should strike now before it’s too late. The kid is valued at a mere $1.65m. OGS, let’s get it poppin’!
When it’s all said and done, the real drama this summer will be what we do with Deano. He has proved that he’s first team quality for a Premier League squad and he wants game time. If he keeps exceeding expectations at Sheffield until the end of the season, DdG will have some fierce competition for that number one spot.
What do you readers (plural, ma!) think? Let me know at @Conor_Marrsta. Until next time, GGMU!