Preston North End boss Simon Grayson will be watching developments at Manchester United closely as he seeks to bring keeper Sam Johnstone back to Deepdale.
United signed Argentina World Cup goalkeeper Sergio Romero on a free transfer from Sampdoria, with boss Louis van Gaal claiming he was forced into the deal because of the uncertainty surrounding David de Gea.
That is because the Spaniard could still leave United for Real Madrid, according to the Dutchman.
With De Gea’s future up in the air, PNE have been left waiting to see whether they can bring Johnstone back to Deepdale on a season-long loan following his successful spell in last season’s promotion-winning campaign.
Johnstone was a Wembley winner with North End as they clinched promotion back to the Championship via the play-offs.
With last season’s back-up keeper Victor Valdes seemingly on his way out of Old Trafford, Romero’s arrival to challenge De Gea could now persuade LVG to let Johnstone back out on loan.
Madrid want to sign De Gea, but United insist they will only do a deal with the 10-time European champions if defender Sergio Ramos comes to Old Trafford in return.
Although such a deal seems unlikely at the moment, particularly with Ramos having been named Madrid captain recently, the situation could change before the transfer window shuts at 6pm on September 1.
Van Gaal has therefore set up a contingency plan by signing Romero on a free transfer.
The Dutchman says it was only logical to sign the Argentinian on a three-year deal given De Gea’s future is still unresolved.
“I think that in our circumstances, with the threat that David de Gea is going to Real Madrid, we have to prepare our season and I think Sergio Romero can fulfil that because you have to handle very quickly when it may happen with David de Gea,” the United manager said.
Van Gaal knows Romero well. He signed the 28-year-old for AZ Alkmaar in 2007 and employed him as his No.1 for two seasons.
The pair crossed paths again last summer when Romero denied Van Gaal’s Holland a place in the World Cup final with his penalty-shootout heroics in Sao Paulo.
“He is a very good choice,” Van Gaal said.
“He is the Argentinian goalkeeper. He has international experience.
“I saw him in the World Cup because he stopped our penalties very good and that is why were not in the final, but I remember him especially from my former time and I know what he can do.
“He is a very dominating goalkeeper. His stature is also tall and he gives a lot of confidence to the players.
“Of course, he has to learn English because that is also a problem always with a foreigner. He is very good with his feet so he fits in our profile. I have a lot of confidence that he can fulfil what we are expecting.”
If De Gea stays, there is no guarantee Romero will get much playing time.
“I have of course spoken with Sergio and also with David and with me always the best shall be in the line-up so you have to fight and I think in a top club as Manchester United you need always competition,” Van Gaal said.
Romero, who was released by Sampdoria earlier this summer, said: “I am absolutely delighted to join Manchester United.
“To play for the biggest club in the world is a dream come true for me.”