Why did Man United sign veteran Lee Grant?

2 months ago

One of the more surprising transfer deals of the 2018 summer transfer window was goalkeeper Lee Grant’s £1.5 million move from Stoke City to Manchester United. The 35-year-old, who made his professional debut for Derby County back in 2002, was a regular feature for the Red Devils during their pre-season preparations. But what purpose will Grant serve in the upcoming season?

Lee Grant gave one of the performances of his career during Stoke’s clash with the Man United in 2016, not only securing an important 1-1 draw for the Potters, but helping them earn their first point at Old Trafford since 1980. The match was a clear example of how big an influence the individual performance of a goalkeeper can have on a game, and no doubt left a big impression on Jose Mourinho.

“In the first minute their goalkeeper made an unbelievable save and he kept doing that until the end

of the game,” said Mourinho in his post-match interview.

“He started with an amazing save to Zlatan and ended with an amazing save from Zlatan. You can say what you want, but that’s my opinion.”

When Stoke were relegated to the Championship at the end of the 2017/18 season, Man United wasted little time in signing Grant to a two-year contract, continuing their time-honoured tradition of acquiring opposition players that have turned up at Old Trafford and completely outperformed the home side. If you can’t beat them, sign them.

Grant’s arrival has left some fans scratching their heads however. United already have three top goalkeepers in David de Gea, Sergio Romero, and Joel Periera, so what was the point of bringing in a 35-year-old benchwarmer?

Well, according to Grant’s Stoke City teammate Peter Crouch, the veteran ‘keeper may surprise United fans this season. “It has gone under the radar but it makes so much sense and I’d expect before long that he will be David de Gea’s No. 2.

“He is different class and he deserves to be at a club that will be expecting to challenge for honours.”

There have also been rumours that Grant could be set for a coaching role at Old Trafford at the end of his contract. The most realistic theory is that with youth player Joel Periera recently joining Portuguese side Vitoria Setubal on loan, United simply need a third choice goalkeeper to cover for suspensions and injuries. Given Grant’s Championship experience however, United fans could the opportunity to see the 35-year-old feature in the EFL Cup – at least the early rounds anyway.

Photos: Getty