When Manchester United sanctioned a deal to sign Stoke City goalkeeper Lee Grant, eyebrows were rightfully raised.
At 35, what’s the use in signing a third-choice goalkeeper who’ll likely sit on the bench and play no more than five games a season? However, the deeper you delve, the more sense it makes. This is classic Jose Mourinho.
The man from Hemel Hempstead
We all know the self-proclaimed Special One loves an experienced, well-rounded older player. Sure, Grant’s career is winding down. The man from Hemel Hempstead has been in and around dressing rooms in English football for close to two decades.
The shot-stopper has never played for a side anywhere close to one with United’s stature, though. Grant’s big-break will reignite the fire in his belly, and he’ll be keen to prove to the world just how valuable he is, even at such a late period in his professional life.
From veteran presence to youthful exuberance. Another player who’ll reap the rewards of the Red Devils signing Grant is Joel Pereira. The young Portuguese is highly thought of by his fellow countryman and club boss. The 22-year-old has made three competitive appearances for United. Now, he’ll get the opportunity to flourish on a season-long loan deal, playing week-in-week-out. That’s going to be huge for his development and growth.
Moving slightly up the age ladder, Sam Johnstone, 25, was allowed to leave Old Trafford on a permanent deal, and that’s who’ll Grant will replace as third-choice. The fee for Johnstone is believed to be around £6.5million, potentially rising to £10million. Considering they signed Grant on a free, from a business standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.
The best third-option in the country
I understand I keep harping on about age, but it’s important in this game. Here is where the numbers take a back seat, though. Despite both being younger, Grant’s game will only improve by working with David de Gea and Sergio Romero week-in-week-out. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this is the best one-two tandem in the English game. They’re both well-established, world-class players in their own right. I’d also argue that United now have the best third-option in the country, too…
Grant’s not just an on-field asset, either. I take a look at his leadership qualities. He’ll bring yet another dimension to an already stacked United dressing room. Be it helping youngsters improving their game from a mental standpoint, or teaching the aforementioned De Gea and Romero a trick or two, that can only be a good thing.
He’ll also allow his Spanish and Argentine colleagues the chance to rest up over the hectic winter schedule. Mourinho’s now found himself a reliable Carabao Cup goalkeeper. Don’t be surprised to see Grant start in every fixture in said competition. United haven’t signed him to sit on the bench for the next two years.
Another Mourinho masterstroke
I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, a move is just perfect for all involved. In this deal, absolutely everyone wins. On a free transfer, and likely to be on low wages, it’s a gamble that everyone can take. If it doesn’t work out, and let’s say Grant picks up an injury, he can be moved on next summer relatively easily. However, I’m fully expecting this deal to quietly work wonders. It’s another Mourinho masterstroke.
Basically, for the next twelve months at least, Mourinho has one less problem to worry about. If an injury does arise, United have options aplenty to work with. As the old saying goes, it’s about building from the back. We all know how much the self-proclaimed Special One loves to do exactly what. Nevermind parking the bus, the Red Devils boss is trying to park the tank!