With the news of Manchester United’s recent pursuit of Brazilian teenage starlet rumoured to be over following quotes suggesting that United would not increase their offer for the player from Lucas’ agent Wagner Ribeiro it appears that Manchester United will have to turn their focus onto other targets in order for them to improve the squad that finished runners up to fierce city rivals Manchester City in the Barclays Premier League last season.
For a club like Manchester United there are always options in the transfer market with the name of the club revered around the globe due the clubs vast success over the years, in particular the Sir Alex Ferguson era, as well as the huge globalisation of marketing that Manchester United have undertaken over the years in order to expand their brand into places such as Africa, Asia and more recently the United States of America.
All this has contributed to players understanding that United are a world renowned club and for many it would be an honour to be part of such an organisation however in the current economic climate and with the Glazer family appearing to tighten purse strings as a result of the clubs massive debt, Manchester United haven’t been able to make waves in the transfer market in recent years as they perhaps did in years gone by. Much of this may well be down to Manchester City and Chelsea and other clubs backed by an oil rich owner or consortium who have paid over the odds for certain players and therefore broken the glass ceiling of the market causing fees for all players to rise in comparison to what City and Chelsea have paid for the players they have signed.
Sir Alex Ferguson has used this over previous summer to defend his frugal spending by saying there is little value in the market due to these inflated fees however it appears that this summer following the signing of Shinji Kagawa for significant money and the pursuit of Lucas Moura that Manchester United are once again ready to spend the big money in order to keep up and compete with Manchester City as the Blues look to establish themselves as the dominant force in the city. With the deal for Lucas seemingly unfeasible from this point it is interesting to look at Manchester United’s alternative transfer targets and whether they could be brought in to impact the squad in the same way Lucas Moura would have been.
The first option for Sir Alex Ferguson would be to keep the fans happy with the solitary signing of want away Arsenal centre forward Robin Van Persie, the Dutchman whom had his finest season in London during the just passed 2011-2012 campaign would be a transfer that on the face of things would split the United fan base, with many suggesting that at twenty eight (just days away from being twenty nine) years of age and for an inflated transfer fee that Arsenal would demand, it would not be a good transfer in the long run for United with the cynics suggesting that you would only get one or two good years from Van Persie with him at his best before he starts to decline due to age. Many have also pointed to Van Persie’s rather large injury history with Van Persie suffering from numerous fitness issues throughout his time at Arsenal and with a significant number of Arsenal fans consoling themselves following the news their key forward was leaving, in the knowledge that last season was probably Van Persie’s first relatively injury free season with the Gunners.
The other half of United fans would point to Van Persie’s exceptional scoring record last season and suggest that his goals would lead Manchester United to glory on the European front, however personally I cannot see how Van Persie given the system I am expecting United to play next year utilising just one forward, would fit into the side on a regular basis which is what the Dutchman would command. I also think that the signing of Van Persie may well limit the first team football given to Chicharito and more importantly Danny Welbeck who is still yet to sign a new long term contract at Manchester United. Whilst I certainly wouldn’t complain about the signing of Van Persie with him bringing even more first-rate talent to the squad I just simply feel that there are more important areas to strengthen than up front.
Another route for Sir Alex to take would be the one that sections of the United faithful have been asking, on the verge of begging for, for a number of years and this is the central midfield position. With Darren Fletcher’s future in the game uncertain following his long term illness and the inconsistent form of Anderson, Manchester United have been relying on the superb midfield partnership of Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes since January and many fans believe that this cannot carry on and a centre midfielder should be signed to give a certain amount of rest bite to Scholes and Carrick as well as adding to the squads strength in depth in that position.
One name that has been talked about significantly is Tottenham Hotspur’s Croatian playmaker Luka Modric however it has long been the case that Daniel Levy’s valuation of the player in no way matches what Manchester United are willing to pay and up until earlier this week it looked as if Real Madrid were set to complete the signing of Modric however the Spanish champions are seemingly waiting until the situation regarding Kaka’s return to AC Milan is finalized before they complete the signing of Modric. Another potential option to strengthen the midfield for Sir Alex would be to sign a ‘destroyer’ to play in the centre of midfield with many suggesting that United have lacked midfield bite since the departure of the influential captain Roy Keane in 2005.
Yann M’Vila, following the collapse of his move to Arsenal this summer, would be an option with his club Stade Rennais making the midfielder available for just under £12m and M’Vila being very much like Patrick Vieira in his style of football often winning the ball through strong tackles in the midfield and distributing it to one of the more creative players or even going on a marauding run himself a la Yaya Toure so often does at Manchester City. Many United fans have expressed their distaste for the signing of a ‘destroyer’ however as they feel playing a holding midfielder limits the creativity of a team as we saw to a certain degree with the Netherlands at the European Championships in Ukraine and Poland although admittedly they were utilising two holding midfielders but in essence the affects would be the same.
Another area that could well benefit from a degree of reinforcement is left back, with Patrice Evra the only recognized left back in the first team squad following the loan deal taking Fabio Da Silva to QPR for a season, it would be of great benefit to the squad if a player was signed to be backup to Evra or even challenge the Frenchman’s almost at this point guaranteed place in the starting line up. Many media outlets have pointed towards Everton’s Leighton Baines to be Sir Alex’s number one defensive target however Everton would command a high transfer fee of £15m+ which in my mind does not replicate Baines’ true market value.
I feel that a much younger deputy could be signed at a much greater cost with Blackburn’s Martin Olsson a potential option with the Swede costing next to nothing as a result of Rovers’ relegation to the Championship last season, there is an argument that Olsson in terms of ability is not as wise a signing as Baines would be at this time however in terms of age, cost and the fact that despite his less than exceptional performances since after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Patrice Evra would still be the starting left back it may well be the best transfer for all parties involved with Leighton Baines more than likely being unwilling to make the move to Old Trafford just to sit on the bench.
Finally there is the sizeable probability that despite his best efforts Sir Alex may not be able to secure the signature of the player he wants and if the deal for Lucas Moura has fallen through then it may well be the case that Manchester United’s summer spending is over following the deals for Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa, make no mistake if Sir Alex Ferguson cannot get the player he desires, he will not sign another just for signing a players sake, the experienced Scotsman will more than willingly persevere with the squad he has and this is why the probability that despite Ferguson’s claims that the club are working hard to bring somebody, of United bringing nobody else in this window is quite significant.
Whilst there are several possibilities that could occur around at this moment in time, one thing United fans have to bear in mind is that they cannot compete with the financial might of Manchester City and this has long been recognized by Sir Alex and has been evident in the way he is trying to conduct his business this window, early and without fuss and that is exactly how the Kagawa and Powell deals were completed however the Lucas Moura saga has taken on a life of its own as a result of social media websites and despite quotes suggesting otherwise the deal for the Brazilian may well yet still be on the cards as all parties will be at Old Trafford on the 29th July when Brazil play their first game of the 2012 Olympic Games. There is still time for developments this summer and supporters of Manchester United must recognize patience is a virtue, more than ever at this time of the footballing calendar.
Written By Chris Winterburn
You can follow Chris Winterburn on twitter via @Chriswin4