In the news today (and in yesterday’s article on United’s 3 summer targets), a lot of names popped up as potential targets.
Let’s look at them one by one, and see whether there’s any weight to those rumours.
1. Owen Hargreaves
It’s clear that Manchester United want him, but the Sun is spinning it differently by saying that United want pay 20m+ for Owen.
Remember, this is the same Sun who announced last summer that United had bought Hargreaves only to have to issue a retraction later.
If he doesn’t come, it will be a big surprise.
Chances: Very Likely.
2. Dimitar Berbatov
A lot of hype in the press but is unlikely to move after just one season. He’s a good striker and is a perfect improvement on Saha, but if any Tottenham striker is coming, it will be Defoe or Keane (and even those two are unlikely).
Chances: Very Unlikely.
3. Franck Ribery
It’s not done and dusted and Arsenal do not ‘own’ Ribery, as much as Arsenal might tell you. For starters, Ribery’s main desire is to play on the big stage and to play, play and play. He’s like Ronaldo in that case. Ribery has named Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Chelsea and Milan as his dream clubs (he has vivid dreams, apparently). He’s also said that he prefers the Spanish and English leagues.
It all depends on Marseille qualifying for the Champions League AND with United paying the right amount of money.
I think Ribery could be the surprise signing of the summer – he’ll be quite handy down either wing, and it’ll allow us to rotate Giggs and Ronaldo more effectively without having to resort to Park / Flecther / Richardson / Eagles. It’s called squad depth, in case you were wondering.
Chances: Possible, stiff competition bidding-wise.
Not happening. Get over it. He wants to stay at Atletico Madrid and to quote the Spaniard, he’ll stay even if he doesn’t play the CL until he’s 28 (i.e. the next 5 years or so).
Chances: Almost None.
There’s a lot of hype about United tracking him, but then again United track plenty of players all throughout the season. Huntelaar’s no different. His chances of coming to Manchester United are very slim – it’s not as if he’s going to be on the top of United’s strikers list.
It’s hard to picture United without a big name forward, so everyone’s speculating. There’s plenty of criticism for Saha as well, even though all Ferguson has said is that Saha needs to get his head right. If you can’t trust Saha, then a striker will be needed, but United could easily play Ronaldo in the support striker role and push Rooney up front.
Huntelaar’s popular with the fans (like Torres is / was), but it’s not a likely option.
Chances: Unlikely, not United-class.
Speaking of strikers, here’s a player who can easily be playing for any of the top four clubs next season (whether West Ham survive or not). He has the class to play for United, he has adapted to the Premiership as well and he is the perfect addition to the young attacking team Ferguson is building (Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Ribery – sounds good, eh?).
Liverpool’s interest is documented but unproven (the only link is Mascherano, which is like saying that Defoe will come to United because of Carrick), Chelsea are linked with just about everyone and Arsenal have the strikers already (van Persie, Adebayor, Henry and 1-2 other kids). All top four clubs are looking for strikers so the competition could be fierce.
Chances: Possible, face stiff competition.
Who is better, Ribery or Nani?
That’s for Ferguson to decide. The media are painting this as a done deal, but in reality United might not even go for Nani if they get Ribery.
With Nani though, United have some advantage due to a lack of competition (Tottenham?), but it could still not happen.
Chances: Likely, but not done.
8. Micah Richards
This one is someone’s idea of a joke. For starters, United have Wes Brown and Danny Simpson at right back to fill in for Gary Neville. Second, Richards is Man City, hello? Third, Richards will be very expensive, and Chelsea are looking for a right-back.
Chances: Very unlikely.
9. Other Strikers
Darren Bent (why?), Michael Owen, Jermaine Defoe, David Villa and Samuel Eto’o have all been listed as possible targets for Manchester United.
All I’ll say is – Bent and Owen aren’t United material, Defoe is good but won’t top any lists, Villa and Eto’o WILL top lists but are bloody expensive and their clubs will stick a heavy price tag on them. Eto’o – too much competition for him, so it’s unlikely, but then again if it comes down to Eto’o himself it could be very interesting.
Chances: Very unlikely, but Eto’o and Villa are dream strikers so United could break the bank for them. The bank may not be able to match some other teams though.
10. Gareth Bale
A possibility, but depends on Southampton’s success in the playoffs. The best deal regarding Bale would be if we were to buy him and send him to Sunderland on loan – he’ll get regular Prem experience AND we’ll have him on the books as well.
Given the importance of other targets, this may not happen though. However, United are not in the business of letting good players go without a fight.
11. Other midfielders
Pedersen, Nolan, Gattuso – they’ve all been mentioned. Pedersen would be a last resort, Nolan is club captain and would not trade it for a life on the bench, and Gattuso talks a lot so let’s not believe what he says, shall we? Milan will keep him at all costs, just as they are keeping Pirlo and Kaka. They’ve learned from the Sheva episode.
Chances: Not happening.
12. Other defenders and keepers
I doubt that we’re linked with any keepers (which is a good thing) but Ferguson will be looking towards the future and there’s a possibility that if things don’t go according to plan with Foster and Kuszczak, United could be forced to get a new keeper in 2008.
But that’s next season. This season, United’s goalkeepers are safe (hopefully no Chelsea-like disasters happen) and both Foster and Kuszczak will probably stay at United next season.
Defenders, it’s the same story. Pique and Evans have done well at their clubs this season, and at least one of them will be pushing for a starting place.
Chances: Not happening.
Did I miss any player? Let me know who I haven’t discussed and I’ll add them to the list.