Sergio Romero is ready to fight to be Manchester United No1 – and finish his career at the club.
The Argentine keeper was brought in by former boss Louis van Gaal in 2015, but his first-team opportunities have been limited.
But, with David De Gea linked with a summer move to Real Madrid, Romero could have a chance to prove he can be first-choice, just like he has been for his country where he is Argentina’s most-capped keeper with 87 caps.
Real Madrid want two of these galacticos: Mbappe, De Gea, Griezmann, Lewandowski or Dybala. Long summer ahead... pic.twitter.com/R0W8HNBVIO— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) May 6, 2017
Boss Jose Mourinho has promised to play him in the Europa League final against Ajax and plans changes for games against Spurs today, Southampton on Wednesday and then home to Crystal Palace next weekend.
And Romero, 30, would welcome the chance to impress as he said: “I work every day to play and when I arrive in the weekend and I don’t play, I go to my house [feeling] down.
“But I have, inside, the power to continue, to fight every time because I am the No1 in Argentina, this is my position, this is my mentality, my level.
“For David, when my level is high, David’s level is high. I have confidence in David, David has confidence in me and this is really important for us. We fight together for the best for Manchester United.
“I came here for the No1 position, but I know what my reality is now. I am the second goalkeeper and I work every day for my possibilities.
“When I can play, I prove and show and demonstrate how capable I am, that I can do this job.”
With just five Premier League appearances, Romero has been restricted to cup games.
But he added: “I never considered leaving, no. Because this club is so big and I am very happy to stay at this club.
“When van Gaal called me in 2015, I was in Argentina and he said ‘do you want to come to Manchester United and be the first or second goalkeeper?’ And I said yes, it’s a big club and I want to go there and want to win with this club. I have two more years left on my contract and I am here.
“But I want to stay here for 10 years, I want to finish my career here.”
While he has won Olympic gold with Argentina in 2008, and taken part in successive Copa America final losses and the World Cup final defeat to Germany in 2014, Romero says people in his homeland are surprised.
“People are surprised I am here at Manchester United, never mind being the No1 or No2,” he said, reflecting on a career that has seen him play at Dutch side AZ Alkmaar, under van Gaal, and Italians Sampdoria.
“Because when you play in the small teams like I have done all my life, I am surprised.
“For a long time I am the keeper for the national team, but I am happy with my life. I have my wife and my two children and this is my power you know, and I fight every day to be in the team on a Saturday or Sunday. I want to continue like this for the rest of my career.”
Romero admits he is “really happy” to hear Mourinho will stick with him for the must-win Europa League final with the victors gaining entry to next season’s Champions League.
But he is also conscious that he needs to be playing regularly to ensure he remains Argentina’s custodian for crucial World Cup 2018 qualifiers in August – and then the finals should they claim a spot in Russia.
At the 2014 finals, he kept his spot despite similarly not starting for Monaco.
“Yes, I know it’s the World Cup next year and I am here and know I need to work a lot for my confidence, for the team’s confidence and the next year I don’t know what will happen,” added Romero.
“I want to go to the World Cup with the national team to Russia, but it’s one year [away].
“I have confidence in me and when I play I am searching for the confidence of the manager and the players. And when I arrive after the match in the dressing room all the players say ‘well done Sergio, fantastic’. This is my mentality. I am strong with this. Maybe I don’t play for two months, but I am ready for this match.
“To win the Europa League will be the best present to celebrate a successful year. It’s like a badge of distinction, a badge of honour.”
Even if De Gea goes, though, United will bring in a top-class replacement. But Mourinho also believes United have another talented stopper on their books in Joel Pereira and is ready to give him a game before the end of the season.
He said: “We need three good goalkeepers. We have two good goalkeepers, experienced. Spain national team goalkeeper, Argentina national team goalkeeper, and we have a young boy that for me is going to be the Portuguese number one [Joel Pereira]. He is just 20, born in the club, made in the club.
“Joel is fantastic and I am going to give him a chance to play in the Premier League this season. In one of these three [remaining] matches I am going to play Joel, so we have three fantastic goalkeepers, two plus a young one. But a club of our dimension cannot gamble, we cannot have one good one and one ordinary one. That is what top teams have to do.”
But as he vowed to rest players for the final game against Palace – ahead of the Europa League final – he was not concerned about the prospect of punishment from the Premier League even though his actions could affect the relegation battle.
“No,” he said. “I really hope that everything is decided so we are not part of that because if we are, I am so sorry. I am going to rest.”
Riyad Mahrez’s penalty slip ensured Manchester City did not take a tumble of their own in the Champions League race, moving third with a 2-1 win over Leicester at the Etihad Stadium.
On the fifth anniversary of their first Premier League title win their 2012 hero Sergio Aguero was restricted to a late cameo but a penalty from his heir apparent, Gabriel Jesus, and David Silva’s opener left City with the points.
Shinji Okazaki gave the Foxes hope with a stunning volley before half-time but when Mahrez had the chance to level from the spot 13 minutes from time, he lost his footing and touched the ball into his standing leg.
The effort somehow still ended up in the top corner but referee Robert Madley spotted the infringement and chalked off what would have been a fitting reward for Leicester’s unexpected comeback.
Below is how we rated both sets of players.
Willy Caballero 6
Vincent Kompany 7
Nicholas Otamendi 6
Gael Clichy 6
Yaya Toure 7
Kevin De Bruyne 6
David Silva 7
Raheem Sterling 7
Leroy Sane 8
Gabriel Jesus 6
Sergio Aguero for Sterling 78′, Pablo Zabaleta for De Bruyne 82′, Jesus Navas for Jesus 90′
Kasper Schmeichel 7
Danny Simpson 6
Yohan Benalouane 5
Christian Fuchs 6
Ben Chilwell 7
Riyad Mahrez 6
Wilfried Ndidi 5
Andy King 6
Marc Albrighton 6
Shinji Okazaki 8
Jamie Vardy 6
Daniel Amartey for King 68′, Islam Slimani for Okazaki 73′, Demarai Gray for Albrighton 80′
Faced more defensive duties in the second half, but was an attacking spearhead in the first, creative, cunning and cavalier. Getting better with every game.
Guardiola says he won’t change the way his team plays, but maybe they need to be a bit more streetwise and know when to slow down the pace.
Cruising, confident, they were cantering to an easy victory at 2-0. Instead, another defensive lapse allowed Okazaki the space for his stunning strike and City were rocking after that.
Had Mahrez not slipped on the penalty, they would have let slip a two-goal lead and the loss of two precious points. They were also fortunate Kompany was at the back to keep his side focused in a nervy closing stages.
Riyad Mahrez’s slip ensured Manchester City did not pay the penalty as they took another step towards the Champions League with a 2-1 victory over Leicester.
A fluent City deservedly led through David Silva and Gabriel Jesus’ penalty but Shinji Okazaki’s superb volley just before half-time set the nerves jangling at the Etihad.
Mahrez thought he had equalised from the spot in the 77th minute but referee Robert Madley correctly spotted that the Foxes star had slipped and touched the ball twice and it was ruled out.
Here, we focus on the Jesus’ performance.
Goals – 1
Assists – 0
Shots – 1
Pass accuracy – 67%
Passes – 30
Key passes – 1
Touches – 44
Dribbles – 1
Dispossessed – 1
Jesus wasn’t at his best, but then none of the City players were. Despite having 66% of possession, the hosts weren’t able to get the striker into the game as much as they would’ve liked.
To his credit, the Brazilian did drop deep to try and influence the game but just didn’t get enough of chances in and around the box.
In fact, apart from his goal from the penalty spot, he didn’t have any shots at goal.
8th min: De Bruyne spots the run of Jesus and whips in a superb cross towards the Brazilian. It’s just out of reach for the striker though and Schmeichel is able to claim it.
36th min: Jesus steps up and converts the penalty to double City’s lead. A slow run up, calm as you like, dispatched in the corner.
72nd min: The 20-year-old always puts in a shift as well and on this occasion does well to win the ball from Christian Fuchs. Raheem Sterling then latches onto it to and shoots but sees his effort deflected wide.
The argument could be made that Jesus didn’t have the best service on the day but the best strikers are able to create the odd opportunity for themselves. To not have a single shot on goal from open play is disappointing.
Having said that, he showed nerves of steel from the spot and continued his remarkable scoring run. He did plenty off the ball too. Overall a performance that left much to be desired but he’s allowed an off day, especially when he still gets on the scoresheet in the process.
So far this season:— ㅤ (@Beardamendi) May 13, 2017
5 Goals pic.twitter.com/mqWgy6BOzP
Despite playing just 484 mins in the PL, Gabriel Jesus has scored the same amount of goals (5) in 2017 as:— ReviewFootball (@ReviewFootball) May 13, 2017
• Benteke pic.twitter.com/EUcsA5PIQY
Gabriel Jesus is the best U21 player in Europe.— Playoff RJ (@finishedclub) May 13, 2017
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com