In a classic case of deja vu, Manchester United have seen another top transfer target slip through their fingers.
Considering the media attention this club generates, we can expect to see almost as much coverage on this miss as in the rumoured pursuit itself. For in choosing Bayern Munich over the Red Devils, Thiago Alcantara has struck a blow in the hearts of the millions of United fans worldwide and created the impression that David Moyes may be a little bit desperate, at least as far as the transfer window is concerned.
But before the howls of mourning (or protest at the Glazers’ generally perceived impotence in the top tiers of the transfer market) reach their peak, lets pause to analyse things with a level head and ask if there is a need to panic for United fans.
For this is not a new thing. The Barclays Premier League Champions have often missed out on top targets before; from Paul Gascoigne through to Alan Shearer, Ronaldinho, Wesley Sneijder and Lucas Moura, there is a trail littered with plenty of promise at the start to disappointment and a genuine sense of‘what might have been’.
It will remain academic but the hypothetical issue for conjecture will always be how many goals would Shearer have scored with a supply line comprising of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes?
So for David Moyes, this failure in the transfer market can not really constitute a crisis. What I find rather mystifying is the club’s apparent disinterest in the former Celtic-now-turned Southampton midfielder Victor Wanyama. Here was a player waiting for an offer than never came. Considering his performances in last season’s Champions League, this may be a case of Moyes failing to snap up an ‘unconsidered trifle’.
That said, United still do have pressing midfield concerns; a central anchoring midfielder to add steel and finesse would do as would a creative link-up=player who is able to deliver 15 to 20 goals a season. The Red Devils have no problems finding the net but their weakest link has been in the Roy Keane position.
Playing Giggs and Scholes centrally has left the team shorn of energy, especially when the team is defending. As astute a passer as Michael Carrick is, he will not race back 70 yards to make a last ditch tackle and neither is he the quickest player on the park.
On the other hand, a goal-scoring midfielder with the ability to drop deep and spray passes around is required. Carrick neither fits any of these roles and despite using a combination of midfielders to cover both concerns in the last four years (Owen Hargreaves being the last recognized anchorman), United have generally triumphed in the Premier League whilst being found out in the tactically and technically adept arena of the UEFA Champions League.
For Moyes, the options are still there, if as Sir Alex Ferguson made us believe, the Glazers are supportive in the transfer market. Marouane Fellaini may be the first name now on Moyes’ mind.
Everton will be loath to part with him, but the lure of the Champions League and re-uniting with an old boss make him the most possible target. He does not possess silky skills, but a reported preference for playing in the centre as opposed to upfront with Everton may help matters.
For a big man, he does have a good first touch. There is also Luka Modric of Real Madrid. With Real having recently signed the other Spanish sensation Isco and another U-21 rising star Asier Illaramendi, new boss Carlo Ancelotti may possibly dispense with the diminutive Croatian.
He is proven in the Premier League and would thrive being the main man in the centre. Another seemingly realistic candidate is Sneijder. Whilst assured of playing in the Champions League at Galatasaray, the Turkish SUperlig is not the sort of high profile league worthy of a player of his status.
The Kevin Strootman case has gone cold, bringing with it another impending sense of de’javu but this is one Moyes must also push for.
The ‘unrealistic looking’ list comprises Cesc Fabregas, Arturo Vidal, Ilkay Gundogan, Axel Witsel, Claudio Marchisio, Sven Bender. Then there is the ‘forgotten B list’ comprising the likes of Newcastle’s Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote, Moussa Dembele of Tottenham Hotspur and Valencia’s Sofiane Ferghouli . These are underrated players but would certainly boost the United midfield a great deal.
All these players have a reason or another to possibly come on board; from moving to a high profile league and team, to regular first team football and a bigger pay packet, but it is imperative that the Glaziers, alongside new CEO Ed Woodward, make a strong statement of intent and burn a hole in one of world football’s most silk-lined pockets.
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