So far this summer isn’t quite going to plan for new manager David Moyes at Manchester United.
The newly appointed Scot, who came in this month to replace Sir Alex Ferguson after 26 years in charge at Old Trafford, had plenty to be getting on with as soon as he stepped through the door.
His first ‘target’ was to keep Wayne Rooney who handed in a transfer request to the Premier League champions in May. Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Arsenal seem to be sizing up the 27-year-old England number 10 who had his poorest season in a Red Devils shirt, by all accounts.
Whilst Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward continue their shielding process to ensure the contract rebel doesn’t abscond, Moyes desperately needs a creative central midfielder to add depth and quality to his squad following the retirement of Paul Scholes this term.
First, the former Everton boss seemed to be leaning towards Thiago Alcantara, one of Barcelona’s hottest prospects but the Spaniard opted to join European champions Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, seemingly preferring to reunite with his former coach Pep Guardiola now in charge at the Allianz Arena.
Next up, Moyes looked to Alcantara’s teammate at the Camp Nou Cesc Fabregas – the former Arsenal captain is still regarded as one of the finest midfielders in the world, despite his lack of regular starts behind the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta in Catalonia.
Now 26, the former Gunners skipper is a seasoned and cultured professional with immense quality on and off the ball but, unfortunately for Moyes and United, Barcelona also happen to recognize this and are unwilling to let him go. It would appear the player would prefer to remain in his hometown at his boyhood club to pursue his dream by working to prove himself and acquire regular first-team access.
Barcelona have issued several responses to United insisting the Spaniard is categorically and under no circumstances for sale – something which has lead David Moyes to ‘take stock’ of as he likely needs to consider alternatives.
Those alternatives are now few and far between – it’s hard to find players anywhere near the quality of, for example, Paul Scholes in his prime. Fabregas and Thiago are two in a very very small pool of players United could consider.
Luka Modric at Real Madrid is another – the former Tottenham maestro hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since his move to the Bernabeu last summer and could be headed back to England given half a chance.
However, the name being thrown around in the past week with the most frequency seems to be Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United.
The 27-year-old Frenchman is, in my estimation, a very very good player but he is honestly nowhere near the kind of quality, consistency and capacity of Fabregas. Arsenal were looking at him as replacement for their departed captain two years ago, in fact, but the Gunners opted for Mikel Arteta due to his superior fitness record, I believe.
Cabaye is one of the most creative and decisive players in the league for the Magpies but he’s not the level of quality that United desperately need. In 26 Premier League appearances last term he managed just 6 goals and two assists compared to Fabregas’ 11 goals and 14 assists in 32 appearances for Barcelona.
The Frenchman’s injury record should also be a concern for Moyes – considering the health and fitness woes of Darren Fletcher as well as new boy Shinji Kagawa this term, the boss really ought to be looking at players that regularly play 30-plus games a season for their current club.
Two seasons prior to Cabaye’s move to England he scored an impressive 13 goals and made 9 assists in 32 Ligue 1 appearances for Lille – that is the player that Newcastle bought for £4.3 million. He has never come anywhere close to matching that form or record in the Premier League so I find it hard to be believe that he could possibly be on a par with two players who left Premier League clubs for between £30 million and £40 million in the same period.
Yohan Cabaye is a fantastic player for Newcastle and they depend on him but I don’t believe he is capable of orchestrating the play at a club as huge and as competitive as Manchester United and I don’t believe Red Devils fans would be happy if he signs as an alternative to Cesc Fabregas or Thiago Alcanatara.
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