Sergio Romero
Sergio Romero remains first choice for Argentina but has not played regularly at club level for some time AFP

Manchester United completed the signing of Sergio Romero to prepare for David de Gea leaving Old Trafford, according to Louis van Gaal.

Free agent Romero, 28, became the Dutchman's fifth summer signing to date earlier this morning (26 July) when United confirmed his arrival on a three-year deal that includes the option for a further 12 months.

The acquisition of at least one new goalkeeper had become something of a priority for Van Gaal, with De Gea having been persistently linked with Real Madrid for several months now and deputy Victor Valdes all but certain to leave after a very public dispute with his manager.

While Romero remains first choice for his native Argentina and appeared alongside the likes of Marcos Rojo and Angel di Maria during their run to the Copa America final in Chile earlier this month, at club level he has endured a frustrating few seasons after sliding down the pecking order at Sampdoria and failing to make much of a lasting impression during a disappointing loan spell with Monaco.

However, despite that lack of regular domestic football, Van Gaal appears to have trusted his own judgement on a player he previously managed during his time in charge of Eredivisie outfit AZ Alkmaar.

"Sergio Romero is an international goalkeeper from the Argentina team. He was also a former player of mine. I was trainer-coach, manager of AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands, I picked him up when he was 19 and he was a great talent," he told United's official website.

"We became champions with him, with a minor club, and in the Netherlands it was a fantastic result. I know him very well and I think in our situation, if De Gea is going or not going, it is always a threat and we have to take care, make sure that we are prepared and that is why I think it is very good that Sergio Romero is now a Manchester United player.

"He is a goalkeeper and he stops the balls, and that is also his position but he can also build up with his feet and that is, in our profile, very important. But also his stature is very good, he is tall.

"In the Netherlands he dominates the 60m area and I don't know if he can do that in England, because it is a little bit different, but he is physically strong and he has confidence in himself, which is also very good I believe. He did very well in the World Cup against [the Netherlands] because he stopped the decisive penalties [in the semi-final]."

Whether Romero is destined to lay claim to a starting role or merely compete with Sam Johnstone and Anders Lindegaard for a place among the substitutes obviously depends entirely on the transfer saga involving De Gea reaching its conclusion before the end of the current window.

It is little secret that Real Madrid see the Spaniard as an ideal replacement for Iker Casillas, the latter having now finally left the Bernabeu in order to join FC Porto, but progress over any potential deal, possibly also involving centre-back Sergio Ramos, has been positively glacial.

De Gea returned from injury to feature for 62 minutes of United's 3-1 victory over Barcelona at the International Champions Cup on 25 July, and Rafael Benitez recently talked up the credentials of Keylor Navas while admitting that he simply does not know if former Atletico prodigy De Gea will be returning to La Liga.

Valdes, meanwhile, was not selected as part of Van Gaal's 26-man travelling party for the pre-season tour of the United States and the latter subsequently justified such a surprising omission by claiming that he had refused to play for the U21 team last season.

Valdes, whose agent Gines Carvajal had previously refuted suggestions that his client could join newly promoted Turkish side Antalyaspor, hit back at Van Gaal with an Instagram post and it appears his time at United is over after just six months and two senior appearances.

Valenica are another team to have shown an interest in Valdes, although their purchase of Matthew Ryan from Club Brugge last week would appear to put an end to that particular pursuit for now.