David Moyes might have endured a dismal inaugural campaign at Old Trafford, but by now the United manager must have earned at least two life-times worth of air miles, given the regularity with which he flies across the continent to scout potential transfer targets.
Moyes was at it again yesterday, as he flew to Lisbon for the semifinal of the Portuguese Cup between Benfica and Porto, where he apparently scouted three of the many “top targets” he has on his book ahead of the summer.
The United manager was in Portugal to keep an eye of Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala and midfielder Jackson Martinez, while also monitoring Benfica’s on loan left-back Guilherme Siqueira.
Mangala has been on United’s radar for a while, but Manchester City looked to have sealed a deal for the centre-back in the January transfer window, before deciding to pass the opportunity and trusting Martin Demichelis for the remainder of the season – a superb piece of business, in hindsight. The Porto centre-back has a release clause worth £37.8m and if Moyes is determined to secure Mangala’s services, then in all likelihood he’d be forced to trigger the clause, given that engaging in a bidding war with City is nigh-on impossible.
Not surprisingly Moyes has so far been reported as unwilling to do so and United might well have to look elsewhere for a replacement for Nemanja Vidic.
Rather more surprisingly, Moyes seemed keen to monitor Jackson Martinez’s progress. The Colombian has been in fine form this season, netting 27 goals in 44 matches in all competitions for Porto and has attracted interest by Roma, Chelsea and Arsenal but surely United should focus on other areas of the pitch, before they splash £30m+ on a striker.
Siqueira, on loan to Benfica from Spanish outfit Granada, is the latest name to emerge in the “Manchester United’s left-back bingo” and joins the likes of Fabio Coentrao and Luke Shaw on the list of possible replacements for Patrice Evra. Siqueira has impressed in his spell at Benfica and costs around £7m, but he’s already 27 and Benfica are the first big team in his career.
Quite why Moyes needs to scout a player as often as he does is anyone’s guess, particularly given the well publicised scouting system, United allegedly have in place. While it is commendable to see a manager determined to have a hands-on approach, it’s also strange to see that Moyes is either unable to delegate any task to his staff – something Fergie had earmkarked as a key ingredient of managerial success – or he doesn’t fully trust his scouts.
Furthermore, Moyes and Ed Woodward have proved they can conduct deals with the same composure of a drunken teenager stumbling to a bus stop after a night out, therefore regardless of how often he flies across Europe, the deals are far from being done and dusted.