With exactly a month until the transfer window closes, Vincent Ralph takes a closer look at Manchester United’s summer business to date:
While the majority of Premier League clubs have impressed with their summer shopping – not least United’s great rivals City – David Moyes has so far come up short in pursuit of his transfer targets. While United have generated more headlines than most, that doesn’t equate to their signings, with only young full-back Guillermo Varela arriving thus far.
Here we take a look at the arrivals, those who may follow and the regrets and possibilities for what is left of this transfer window.
Defenders: Guillermo Varela (undisclosed)
While an exact amount has not been reported, United chief executive Ed Woodward has said money is available for a “stellar signing”. At the time the phrase was interpreted as meaning one of two men – Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo. But with the former seemingly on his way to Real Madrid, and the latter reportedly asking for wages of €20million net per year, expect United to spend most of their budget on a much-needed central midfielder.
Cesc Fabregas would be ideal. However, he may also be unattainable. Moyes had barely begun his new job when he highlighted the need for a new midfielder, and with a third bid arriving at the Nou Camp imminently he has clearly identified his man.
United’s public perseverance suggests encouragement from the player or his representatives, and although Arsenal have first refusal for a fee of just £25million, it will ultimately be down to Fabregas where he wishes to play next season.
United would also do well to sign a more defensive-minded midfielder and thoroughly revamp their engine room. Marouane Fellaini – a man Moyes knows well – would be perfect protecting a back-line that has again looked shaky in pre-season.
If only and what if:
United fans will surely watch Thiago Alcantara’s emergence in the seasons to come and think if only. Conflicting reports suggest United were interested, they weren’t or Moyes doubted the Spaniard’s ability to perform in the Premier League. But whatever the truth, there is no doubt Bayern Munich have bagged a bargain.
The Old Trafford faithful will hope that one if only doesn’t become two, should Fabregas remain at Barcelona despite United’s dogged persistence to bring him back to England.
And what if Bale’s arrival at the Bernabeu is to counteract the departure of Ronaldo, whose future at Real remains unclear in light of his refusal to sign a new contract? Could United welcome back a superstar? If they did, with one single move all the doubts surrounding Moyes’ transfer nous would immediately be forgotten.
Thank God it didn’t happen:
Selling Wayne Rooney to Chelsea would be foolish in the extreme. At just 27, the England striker still has much to offer, and if his time at United is up, selling him to a domestic rival surely cannot be sanctioned.
United’s insistence that Rooney is not for sale appears unwavering. In fact it was Moyes’s first promise in his first press conference. But losing the player would not be the mistake; that would be losing him to a Jose Mourinho inspired Chelsea, all but sending the title to Stamford Bridge.
What to expect from the next month:
Expect plenty more headlines but very little action…if their transfer activity to date is anything to go by. If United fail with their third (and surely final) bid for Fabregas, talk is of a move for Claudio Marchisio of Juventus; while Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye seems the option if all else fails.
And surely United fans haven’t seen the last of the speculation linking them with moves for Fellaini and Leighton Baines.
In outgoings, expect Moyes to keep hold of everyone until new faces arrive. If they do, the end is probably nigh for Nani and Anderson (unless the new boss wants a crack at doing what the previous one couldn’t), while loan moves for the likes of Nick Powell and Angelo Henriquez beckon.
Transfer rating with a month to go:
1 out of 10
image: © Jason Gulledge