Time could be up for Argentina for Sergio Romero as Edgardo Bauza fires warning over lack of playing time
“If you are not playing for your club, it is difficult to remain in the national side,” were the cautionary words of Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza this week when discussing the future of Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the national side.
Romero has been virtually a permanent fixture for La Albiceleste since Diego Maradona’s chaotic tenure and for much of that has had to settle for a back-up role at club level but while this has been ignored for the best part of four years, Bauza has now questioned how much longer it can continue.
“For the player, it isn’t the same when you don’t have rhythm,”explained Bauza.
“I am going to travel to England to talk and see what resolves. He [Romero] told me that the coach was going to give him more opportunities, but he hasn’t had many.”
Boca eye deal for Sergio Romero after Bauza suggests lack of playing time a problem for Argentina https://t.co/Q7p5crCdmu
— Peter Coates (@golazoargentino) January 18, 2017
That is understandable given the exceptional David De Gea in front of him but it leaves Romero with just a handful of cup appearances under Jose Mourinho this season.
United find themselves in an enviable position with an undoubtedly world class first choice and a hugely experienced, talented reserve. Despite a nervy start Romero has kept ten clean sheets from his last fifteen appearances for the Red Devils and is the only senior backup to De Gea so Mourinho is almost certain to block any move away from Old Trafford at this time.
The Portuguese coach is an admirer of Romero and has praised him earlier in the campaign but it was under different circumstances that the 29-year-old arrived in Manchester.
De Gea was rumoured to be off to Real Madrid in the summer that Louis van Gaal picked up Romero as a free agent and having worked under the Dutchman at AZ Alkmaar, winning the title and coming close to a league record of not conceding in 950 minutes, the Argentinian could have been excused for thinking things could have turned out very differently.
However, barring Romero’s subsequent move to Sampdoria and securing promotion back to Serie A in 2012, Alkmaar marks the last moment of real success in the goalkeeper’s club career.
While that hasn’t prevented ‘Chiquito’ from racking up appearances and breaking Ubaldo Fillol’s as most capped goalkeeper in the history of the national team, for Edgardo Bauza, it is now a cause for concern.
Alejandro Sabella could easily have made such a call prior to the 2014 World Cup when Romero was struggling for game time on loan at Monaco while Willy Caballero was impressing for Malaga but the 62-year-old kept faith and was rewarded with Romero playing an instrumental role in Argentina reaching the final.
Gerardo Martino and more recently Edgardo Bauza could also have looked for alternatives but continued to select Romero until perhaps now. Caballero is no longer the competition, now 35 and himself a bench warmer at Manchester City, but the rise of Geronimo Rulli puts Argentina’s current number one in the spotlight.
Viewed as the future of Argentina’s goalkeeping almost since his Estudiantse debut, it is difficult to ignore the 24-year-old when he is playing every week for a Real Sociedad side riding high in La Liga. Whether Rulli is the man in Bauza’s mind remains to be seen but for many critics calling for a goalkeeping change over the past couple of years, the youngster is who Argentina should be molding into a permanent number one.
Those supporters of Romero, who disregard his lack of playing time at club level, would point to the fact that Chiquito has never let Argentina down but this failure to prepare for life after this current generation is indicative of the recent squads and seems a typically short-sighted view.
Now while it is true that Romero hasn’t cost Argentina matches, nor has he particularly shone since that penalty shootout victory over the Netherlands in Sao Paulo and waiting for that inevitable error before questioning the logic of selecting a perennial substitute seems to be setting things up for a fall.
While Romero remains on the fringes of club football his position as a first choice international goalkeeper must be questioned and allowing a goalkeeper like Rulli to become accustomed to the role and develop seems the healthiest route for Bauza to take ahead of an important 2017.