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Striker Watch: Javier Saviola

Things have quietened down understandably these days. After all the mayhem those three quick signings created. All that remained of Sunday’s news are reports that renew rumours linking Anelka to United. It’s a Sunday after all, and even your average tabloid reporter needs a day off. We had our opinions on Anelka, and we also thank you guys for your comments. Do keep them coming. Makes us writers here feel less lonely about what we think and write!

Today we will talk about another striker linked to the club. Once again, we aren’t saying if he will come to OT, but just musing on how he will fit into our scheme of things.

Saviola, like many other Argentinian forwards in the post-Maradona era, has been burdened with comparisons with the legend. After the initial hype of his arrival on the European stage, he hasn’t quite lived up to his initial promise. He scored 17 goals in his first season at Barcelona and despite having reasonable returns for the club has been deemed surplus to Frank Rijkaard. Despite scoring crucial goals in the absence of Samuel Eto’o, Rijkaard doesn’t seem to have too much faith in the player and is allowing him to leave on a free. All this despite having a good spell on loan at Sevilla the previous season.

Well let’s see his strengths first. His goal return for Barcelona stands at 44 from 104 games. Which is reasonable although not spectacular. He is considered to be a good finisher, and performed rather well for the Argentinian National team in the World Cup. He has good movement and can function in a team that plays with a fluid formation. The Sevilla side of the past two seasons have been a very attacking side, with real quick movement that results in goals. Barcelona plays good fluid football and it baffles me why Rijkaard would ignore Saviola so much that he would buy Gudjohnsen instead.

However his ability to perform in England remains a doubt. The pint sized player also known as the Rabbit, might find it rather tough to play in a much faster setting as the English league where a player with better physique might be more suited. His strength is debatable. I am also not sure on his aerial ability. These are areas that a fit Saha is extremely good with.

That brings us to the question: Should we get him? The fact that he’s available for a free makes it a no-loss situation. But it would demand a sale of one of the forwards at least, due to his wage demands. I always believe the arrival of a striker would see the departure of either Ole or Smith.

But I am not certain about Saviola’s potential as I was about Anelka. On one hand, his success would mean a transfer coup (because he’s free and only 25), but after the Shevchenko debacle, I am more tempted to think that no striker (from another league) can be bought to guarantee you 25 goals a season.

But I guess I will leave you all to debate if Saviola should be the one we should go for or if it should be Anelka (among the bargain buys), or should we go for some ridiculously expensive (supposedly ‘proven’) striker.

Or instead are we better off the way we are at the moment?

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Ahmed Bilal

    June 4, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Berba got goals, didn’t he?

    we’re good as we are, but if not i’d go with someone tall and strong. Not Dong though.

  2. Red Ranter

    June 4, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Berbatov at ten million was a snip. I ought to have rephrased my statement.

    I was referring to splashing out so much money on strikers is taking a lot of risk these days. Especially Chelsea should know better with high profile flops like Crespo, Sheva and Kezman.

    I am just being paranoid anyway.

  3. farbodinho

    June 4, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Not sure if Crespo was a flop at Chelsea, he left them because HE not Chelsea wanted the move to Inter.

    Anyways, I think we could do with another striker and don’t think we’re good enough in that department to challenge on all fronts. Games like Milan and the FA cup final show you the importance of a fit Saha. So I think we should go for a good, not expensive, striker and I personally think Anelka would do a fine job for us.

  4. Keith Moses Kaira II

    June 4, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Saviola is bigegr and mroe skillfull than Owen .Surely he can survive in England if Owen can. For a free he would be a steal. He’d help us replace the oft injured Saha with Anelka and replace Smith.

  5. Dash

    June 4, 2007 at 11:15 am

    The speed of the game when you refer to games of Barca/Sevilla vs. that in the Premiership are different speeds. In Spanish/Italian the speed is generated by quick passing rather than a player running with the ball. For comparison think about how much running a top CM in premiership does vs. one in Liga/Calcio.

    Why is this important?

    Because while not running as much as a CM a good striker in EPL still runs more and passes more with the ball than his counterparts in Liga (Eto/Nihat are notable exceptions here).

    We just don’t need a good finisher with presence and movement in the box. That was RVN and most agree that RVN leaving has lead the team to play more fluidly. What we need is a all round player – capable of holding the ball for enough time to get his team mates into the play. While Tevez seems to have accomplished this I do not see Saviola adapting to such a system.

    Add to this your points about physique and strength in air, Saviola does not look too good for us.

    However, he remains a class player.

  6. richpenguin

    June 4, 2007 at 11:36 am

    The only two expensive strikers who I’d like to see arrive are Berbatov and Tevez. Simple reason – proven in the Premiership.

    For exactly the same reason, I’d prefer Anelka to Saviola – Anelka has played in the Premiership on and off his whole career. He knows what it’s about, and when he can be bothered, he knows how to be successful.

    Interesting to buy a former Wenger player, though….there seems to be as big a rule against former Arsenal players coming to United as for former Liverpool players. I still laugh for two full minutes when I watch the ’99 semi final when Anelka scores his disallowed “winner” and is too busy celebrating to work out he was offside….

  7. karl

    June 4, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I think Anelka is past his “best by” date. If we could get Saviola on a free, then why not? Would the perceptions have changed if Barca placed a 12mil price-tag on him? If he was a bad player, I don’t think he would have gotten the nod ahead of Tevez for Argentina during the worldcup games.

  8. Ahmed Bilal

    June 4, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    That was RVN and most agree that RVN leaving has lead the team to play more fluidly.

    I guess I’m not one of them – We played better this season because of Ronaldo’s form, Scholes’ coming back, Vidic in defense and Carrick in midfield. In other words, a more balanced back four and midfield.

    Nothing to do with RVN’ absence.

    If I had to pick a player to come in, it would be Tevez. No, not Berbatov.

  9. karl

    June 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Ahmed, can you please, please stop mentioning Tevez?
    I want to avoid feeling as hurt as I did last season when he did not arrive at OT 🙁
    I know this is dramatisizing, but it really feels like someone breaking up with a girlfriend that he still has feelings for, and verywhere he goes, they mention her name…worse…you know she’s available…kinda shitty.

  10. JK

    June 4, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I was waiting for this thread to pop up:)

    Well I believe he can make it in UTD.
    During the 2006 WC he was asked to hold the ball more,
    and to move much more(Which reminded me of Rooney)
    and everybody knows he performed well on the job.
    Also it’s proven fact that he is a class striker with pace
    who I believe is better than Tevez.

  11. Ahmed Bilal

    June 4, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez Tevez

    ….

    Now I feel bad too 🙁

  12. Ahmed Bilal

    June 4, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    No Anelka move (manutd.com)

  13. panks

    June 4, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    i still believe we should arrange a swap deal for berbatov by releasing saha and smith considering spurs r interested in both.Smithy is ouw of form and saha is often injured.it’ll be a good deal for us.Saviola for free is a steal considering his talent.He’ll add variety to our strike force sp. in europe.i feel he can adjust to the premiership.if tevez can why cant he?he is as talented as tevez if not better plus he is better than owen and look how much money newcastle paid for him.

  14. aghil

    June 4, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Saviola’s main strengths are: good in holding the ball, good skills, and a good finisher. When if united buy a striker they need to consider what complements the team and what we dont already have. Rooney (to be honest) is not the best finisher in the world, and i think we really do need a good finisher. FA cup final and many more other games (where solely ronaldo came to our rescue) is a proof of this.

    Saviola is young and free. May be it means that we must offload one of our strikers, and this is my only concern. Obviously we wont get rid of rooney. Rossi and Dong (Although im not a big fan of him) deserve a chance. Ole (although seems to be his last season at united) is garanteed to come of the bench and score a few. Saha, if not injured probably one of the best i nthe premiership, but can we rely on that??? Smith, I love his spirit. You see its quite a hard decision. But if it was like for like, I would get rid of Saha, because he can generate a bit of cash. But in the Saviola situation I would get rid of Ole (Id hate to say) he’s old now and i dont think (even if he stays) he’ll play a huge role.

    Regarding the air power, i dont think united will rely on alot of crosses from wide flanks. Last season has showed us that fergie is kind of growing out of the classic English way of playing football and wants the wingers to attack the area themselves now. So I think apart from set pieces (Which we have vidic, rio, ronaldo, etc for that) I dont think air power is a major concern for us.

  15. BootifullGame

    June 4, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Ahmed Bilal, i have to disagree with you about RVN’s absence and its effect on how we play. Whilst Ronaldo has clearly had a much better season this year, and Carricks arrival has definitely improved the squad, I think RVN’s departure has helped the way the rest of the United team play. Nobody can despute how effective RVN was, in his hayday but clearly United are a beter team without him. Not having Ruud in the team allows United to play with their tademark fluidity, as somone previously mentioned. How man times can you remember seeing ruud swapping with Giggs wide left, or interchanging with Ronaldo or Rooney. Put simply United are infinitely more offensive without the ridigity that someone like RVN brings. Please dont interpret this as a cticism of RVN in any way, it was truly amazing to have a hit man like that, but sometimes you have to look at the wider picture. We now have players scoring goals from all over the pitch, like we always have.
    I cant imagine us signing the likes of Tevez or Berbatov, or any of the big names like Eto’o, Torres or even Villa. I dont think we really even need a first 11 striker. I think people who dismiss Rossi due to his stature are looking to hard for problems that dont exist. At the end of the day, he is a natural finisher, simple. He’s proved that by scoring goals in Serie A, against arguably some of the most stubborn defenders in Europe., He scored for fun in the reserves for a couple of seasons, so to say he isnt aclimatised to English football is wrong. I think Saha, although effective when fit, is too much of a liability. Fergie was clearly unimpressed with his attitude in the run in, and why not. we need players who ant to play all the time. So if we do get a striker, say Saviola (rather than Anelka), then id rather Saha moved on. With the speed we have everywhere else on the pitch, we would cope.

  16. Pedro Vilas-Boas

    June 4, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    I don´t think he has the physique to play in EPL… Viduka, Anelka, Bent would be better options. I think SAF is tempted to give a final chance to Smith. Otherwise he will sell it now or in January.

    By the way, there are rumours here in Portugal, that Rossi is going to play in FC Porto, as a consequence of the Anderson´s deal.

  17. BootifullGame

    June 4, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    who hasn’t got the physique? Saviola or Rossi?
    Either way, would you say that Owen, Defoe, Scholes, Zola, etc dont have the physique for the Prem.?
    Hmmm, i thought not.
    Rossi or Pique were rumoured to be part of the Anderson deal, although i dont know whether they will be loaned or sold.
    It would be a shame to lose either. Both have great potential. Do you really think Fergie would have brought Rossi and held onto him for so long if he thought he was physically incapable of handling the league?
    If you actually listen to the noise coming from OT, the you would see how highly Fergie and the rest of the players rate him. “the best finisher at the club” according to Ole, and he knows a thing or two about finishing. If you can score goals, you can score goals. Its not about always about raw strength. as countless players have proven before. If you have a quick enough fottball brain and enough pace thats all you need. As far as his lack of ariel prowess is concerned, you dont need it. Look at Henry, i think he’s scored about 3 headers in all his time at Aresnal.
    As the saying goes, there is more than one way to skin a cat!

  18. Pedro Vilas-Boas

    June 4, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Well, i was referring to Saviola…!

    About your shortlist: Owen, Defoe, Scholes, Zola. The last two aren´t comparable to Saviola, since they never played as first striker. Defoe is a flop, who ever thought that he would be the sub of Robbie Keane? And he only plays well with someone bigger alongside (Mido or Berba). I agree with you in the case of Owen, but that was in those times where he looked as a genius. He stopped playing football, since he went to Madrid. But even then he played a lot alongside Heskey…

    Look at all teams of EPL, how many of them don´t play with someone strong or at least agressive as first sriker? Everton?

    Sorry to stay but neither Rossi, Saviola or even Rooney are solutions for the position of first stiker. Which doesn´t mean that SAF thing that about Rooney at least.

    Even in Parma, Rossi was playing alongside Igor Budan. Rossi could be a good cover for Rooney (SS), but with Giggs playing in the centre and with the arrival of Anderson, i really don´t see where he fits. It is SAF who is buying new players, not me. :p

    Anyway i was just reporting the rumours around Rossi coming to FC Porto. And i guess you all already read Heinze´s words about going to Spain after Copa America. I guess the next post, should be about our future left back.

  19. WCH

    June 4, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    If we do bring in one more signing, it’s gotta be Berbatov or Eto’o for me. Otherwise, just stay pat and at least give young Rossi a shot. If Berbatov or Eto’o come, Saha or one of the strikers would almost certainly be sold to recoup some of that transfer money.

  20. Taron

    June 4, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    Saviola is at best an average striker and we have Smith, as to Anelka I think he is worse as a person he can destroy more than create, the only option for me is Berbatov, but than again Saha can still be good I know all about injuries, but I say let’s give him another chance, after all the way he scored the goal against Chelsea (from nothing) showed his class.

    I am really exited about our two new boys imagine Ronaldo but two more of them…it’s gonna be fun and btw none of them goes for loan ManUtd didn’t pay all that money to send them out on loan.

  21. BootifullGame

    June 5, 2007 at 12:35 am

    They are similar in stature, build. So the last two are comparable. All of those players have had relative success despite their size. Regardless of what position they played in. The EPL is physical and demanding in all areas, not just the “first striker” position you talk about. Michael Owen did a good job at Madrid, and was serioulsy under appreciated, he scored more goals than any other striker at the club at the same time. And in case you didnt notice, the reason he has “stopped playing football” is because he’s been injured all season since he went to Newcastle. Defoe is relatively successfull when he gets the chance, he usually scores, and being behind Keane and Berbatov in the pecking order is no shame. Both are technically gifted players. But im sure you’re right about Rossi not being a target man, i never suggested he would be, i was simply putting forward his name as someone who, in my opinion, should be given a chance in the frist eleven. Im sure he will. Obviously im not talking about him walzing straight into the line up but theres no reason why he cant be intergrated, either behind a main target man or one half of a two man attack (4-4-2). His size has absolutely nothing to do with his not being involved to date, he’s simply been gaining experience.
    I have absolutely every confindence in the little fella proving all the snipers and cynics wrong. Look at his goal scoring record.

  22. heithar

    June 5, 2007 at 12:44 am

    i hope smithy doesnt leave, if they want another striker they should let ole go instead, his career is more or less over hes had his moments but his time is up.
    i dont want smith to leave because hes a player with heart he’d put the team before anything else, he plays for the team and not for wages.
    about saviola: i doubt he’d do any good in england, hes although getting him on a free and selling him later on to buy someone better is a good idea:-D

  23. Red Ranter

    June 5, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Some good points I see, are being raised.
    One of them is about the need for aerial ability and the change in United’s game recently.
    We haven’t relied too much on crosses (and hence headers) these days, with wingers cutting in. Our style of play has indeed changed!

    But it doesn’t mean that we don’t need it. It gives us an extra option, especially when things aren’t going our way. Remember Vidic’s headers and Ronaldo’s header when he came on as a sub? They were at crucial times.

    About stature and physique being important… it depends on how your other talents/attributes help you overcome your lack of stature or physique; be it blistering pace or trickery or something like that. Owen had plenty of pace early on. Defoe is stronger than he looks. Similar things can be said of Zola.

    Unfortunately not everyone adapts.

  24. Liam O'Kelly

    June 5, 2007 at 4:07 am

    Saviola on a free is a pretty good signing I think. he has pace, can finish, can interchange with a number of positions and he was able to keep Tevez and Lionel Messi out of the Argentina side in the world cup. His arrival may also persuade Heinze to stay if he’s having any doubts because they’re on the same national team. I don’t think that berbatov would fit into the United set up as easily as he has with spurs because spurs play a lot more direct football than United.

    Saviola could also be seen as a good signing by a lot of teams in the EPL and Europe so United have to act quickly if they want to sign him and I think that he would fit in quite well with the set up and on a free there isn’t really much to lose because if he is a success then it’s a nice piece of business and if not not then next summer he can be sold for a profit

  25. Rylie

    June 5, 2007 at 7:37 am

    I just think it would be a great counter to the Pizzaro signing….;)

  26. alan wood

    June 5, 2007 at 10:36 am

    its difficult to have pace and arieal power only one fits the bill berbetov but i dont thing spurs will sell and he give spurs another year .ABOUT RUUD ruud for me is the best finisher in the world but remember this .what happened il the last few years when ruud did not score.WE LOST. thats the difference this year that we dont realy on one player .Statices dont lie i dont no exacltly but 17 of our squad scored.THIS IS BECAUSE ruud never went to wide postions and he use to block runs inside the area of roni giggs rooony etc

  27. erkos

    June 5, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    I dont know about Saviola. Feels like, with the new signings of Nani and Anderson, there will be to much technique and italian/spanish type of playing wich do not fit in in the PL. We need more power and I would prefer a big proven striker such as Tevez or Berbatov who knows the premiership.. in case they’re to expensive i want to give Saha another chance to prove me what hes got!

    I want Ruud back!

  28. Ashley K

    June 5, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I can’t see any reasoning to take on Saviola, not because hes a bad player but because we already have a similar mold of player who is considerable younger and already better in GIUSEPPE ROSSI!!! Theyre both small and quick yet Rossi’s footwork, techinique and finishing are all superior.. I for one would love to see Rossi brought in to be our 4th striker next season- Rooney Saha Smith Rossi….

    I am extremely excited about the prospect of our 2 new signings as they both have incredible talent.. The one thing that is troubling me is that in both the 4-3-3 and 4-5-1 set ups, there has to be one central striker.. I think its becoming apparent that Fergie sees Rooney as that player but at times he can get quite isolated and i think hes lack of arial presence is an issue. Then again Barca play this formations with Eto’o and if we are willing to commit as many men forward as they do in there set-up it could be effective though i wouldnt like to see us become another arsenal trying to walk the ball into the net……..!!

    I think Berbatov isnt even worth talking about because hes not for sale, and we arent going to break the bank again this summer i dont think.. The one that stands out for me as another option to lead the line for us is Klose… I am surprised we arent linked more as he has 1 year left on his contract and would be a very tidy aquisition. Is a great finisher, excellent in the air and in his prime at 28…

    But then Fergie knows what he’s doing!!!!……….

  29. jasper

    June 5, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    How about Gilardino, he wants to leave Milan, could be a good back up striker, he’s strong and tall enough. I dunno if he’d be good enough/fit in well enough to warrant a place in the starting line up though..

  30. WCH

    June 5, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    We’re very very early into the offseason still, so I would not be too quick to rule out a move by SAF for Berbatov. You never know, but I have this feeling in me, that we may just manage to pull this one off! 🙂 All this talk of Anelka and Saviola and even Eto’o might just be a decoy for all you know.

    In my opinion, our main formation would be something like this:

    EVDS

    G.Neville – Ferdinand – Vidic – Heinze

    Hargreaves – Carrick

    Ronaldo – Scholes – Giggs

    Rooney

    with the young guns filling in on rotation while easing them in throughout the season. Can’t wait for the summer to be over!

  31. Shyam

    June 6, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    I think United should go and try to buy or loan out Podolski who is unsettled in Bayern with the arrival of Toni and Klose(may be). But they will have to wait and see what happens to Bayern’s bid for Klose..Podolski is young,strong,good in the air and would have had experienced similar kind of tackles as in premiership in bundesliga…and he will be a good addition to the fast paced United team..

  32. NiKOS

    June 8, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Rossi? Rossi anyone?
    Good Italian-American legs?
    Full of goal instict and technically gifted striker…No?
    It’s a good piece trust me.C’mon rossi?We sell rossi here!!!
    OR MAYBE NOT.ROSSI PLAYS FIRST ELEVEN IF SAHA LEAVES US OR SECOND CHOICE AFTER ROONEY NEXT YEAR.

  33. NiKOS

    June 8, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    Also SAF said he had three targets.He scored his own goal.Now he ‘ll let their player train asd compete for the 1st eleven.Then I don’t think we have the money for anelka and we don’t really need saviola when we have Saha Rooney Smith Rossi and even Anderson as a second striker.

  34. NiKOS

    June 8, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    my last comment .
    RVN has never scored a goal with a shot outside the area for MU.
    Rossi can do that.Why Rossi’s physical disadvantage is criticised and RVN’s technical disadvantage isn’t?
    Now,Rooney can work with any footballer cause he is a wise footballer.He worked well with RVN and he did so with the loss-machine Saha.These two players (RVN SAHA) are sooooo different and Rooney served them goals,both.Why can’t he do it with the great finisher ROSSI.
    So I imagine the highlights of next year…Rooney with the pass to Rossi.Giuseppe turns and fires it.GOAOAOAOAOL!!

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