Manchester United have signed only one player so far this summer transfer window in youngster Guillermo Varela from Panarol.
According to numerous reports over the course of recent weeks and months, United have been linked with top world-class talents like Robert Lewandowski, Radamel Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara yet they have, predominantly, been unsuccessful in their attempts to sign top quality.
Whilst it is of course a factor that the press may be fabricating the truth to a large extent when it comes to supposed and rumoured transfer dealings, it is clear that the Red Devils were in the mix for the names above and, as of yet, have failed in their proceedings.
Meanwhile, domestically the club stands in a shadow of controversy and speculation over the future of striker Wayne Rooney who the club and the manager now appear to be taking action towards resolving by publicly stating their position on the matter that a) he will not be sold b) he will not be offered a new contract and c) he is considered merely as ‘cover’ in case of injury to Robin van Persie.
With the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes now faces an uphill climb to ready his new players for the new season which, by his own admission, is one of the most challenging open few fixtures he’s noted for United in many many years.
Whilst they are, of course, Premier League champions the re-emergence next term of the threat from both Chelsea and Manchester City is not only likely but certain.
The Blues have Jose Mourinho back at Stamford Bridge and have brought in Andre Schurrle along with Marco van Ginkel and Mark Schwarzer, whilst City have already splurged around £65 million on Fernandinho, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas an has a new regime to embark on under Manuel Pellegrini’s leadership.
City are also linked with incoming replacements for Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli, and Stevan Jovetic look most likely to arrive at the Etihad.
Whilst all the planes flying overhead seem to be City’s, United fans await any news or confirmation that the club are going to or have signed anyone of note – they look most likely to import Porto’s Ezequiel Garay but Moyes’ former Everton players Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini are also linked.
The problem, let’s be honest, is whilst United are the reigning champions, they still have to keep the pace in the transfer market to ensure they reclaim the title and, furthermore, they ought to be setting the pace.
If fact, that’s exactly what they did last summer with their acquisition of Van Persie – they set the pace and, simultaneously, rendered everyone else pretty much irrelevant to their challenge.
That is not going to be the case next season – unless they sign a world-class player. Lewandowski is a possibility and, who knows, if Rooney goes that could open other windows of opportunity but there is one player who can be considered not just world class but certainly one of the best footballers of his generation.
That player is Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and whilst the official line from Spurs is that the Welshman is not for sale (sounds familiar?) United do have the financial ability to tempt him from White Hart Lane if they were really intent on doing so. At least according to chief executive Edward Woodward they do.
Interestingly, the bookmakers seem to think United stand an equal chance with Real Madrid (both odds at 7/2) and I would anticipate as the summer drags on, if United haven’t signed a top top player, David Moyes may be inclined to push the ‘panic button’ – he knows the pressure he’s under to steer the ship and steer it well.
With the fixtures they have in August and September United are going to need to make an instant impact and what would give them a better technical, physical and even psychological advantage over their competition that by signing probably one of the best footballers in the world?
Well, that would certainly render any challenge to their title pretty much irrelevant again. That would be enough to make every other club in the league press the panic button.
What do you think? Is a Bale bid another blind alley United are chasing up?