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.”