Why Manchester United don't need Cesc Fabregas
Manchester United should set their sights on a different type of midfielder - not Cesc Fabregas
As with a fair few of this summer's high profile transfer sagas, one must question the logic of pursuing a player who is not only unlikely to leave Camp Nou but who is also not needed.
Of course, Cesc Fabregas is a fantastic footballer, one with extensive experience of English football and who is currently feeling undervalued by his boyhood club, but Manchester United have more pressing needs.
Much has been said about United's lack of pulling power under Moyes but I would venture that the club is chasing the wrong players. Fabregas would be the marquee signing fans crave but he is a luxury, not a necessity.
Manchester United already have several creative talents whose best position is playing off the main striker, namely Rooney and Kagawa. Add to that the fact that Michael Carrick is one of the league's best passers and the need for a player who dictates the pace of the game becomes less pressing.
Sure, Carrick is no spring chicken but his form has steadily improved over the past couple of seasons to the point where buying a creative player has become less important than buying a midfield destroyer to compliment him.
With the England midfielder and one of either Rooney or Kagawa at the tip of a midfield three, creativity and passing ability are not an issue. Defensive cover and the legs to hound opponents, on the other hand, are.
Midfield has been an issue for the Premier League champions ever since age caught up to the likes of Scholes and Giggs, and replacing them has proven difficult. So difficult, in fact, that they haven't been replaced at all.
Scholes was pulled out of retirement while Giggs is still playing at the age of 39. The United midfield needs a shot of youthful exuberance and boundless energy.
If you take a look at the current options, the need for a midfield destroyer becomes even clearer. Anderson has been a mixed bag since joining the club from Porto in 2007. He seemingly has all the tools to become the player United desperately need and yet his career has been hampered by injuries and inconsistency.
Darren Fletcher became an integral figure under Sir Alex Ferguson with his work rate and drive but he too has succumbed to injuries and it appears his best days are behind him. Tom Cleverley, despite glimpses of talent, doesn't appear good enough to dominate the midfield against the illustrious opponents United need to beat in order to retain their title and challenge Europe's best.
What Moyes needs to do is inject his midfield with steel and youth, preferably with the signing of one player. Of course, United had such a player in Paul Pogba but he was foolishly not given the opportunity to break into the first team and has since proven at Juventus just how good he is.
If only there were a similar young player out there. Well, actually, there is. He is just 20-years-old, like Pogba. He is over six feet tall, like Pogba. He is even the same nationality. His name is Geoffrey Kondogbia.
What United would give to have a young Yaya Toure-esque player in their side, breaking up the play and then driving the team forward with speed and power.
In the English game, physical qualities are just as crucial as technical ones but fortunately the young Frenchman combines both to great effect and at a club like United, he can only improve. Marouane Fellaini would also be a good option but one can't help but feel that prising him away from Everton would be harder than convincing a cash-strapped Sevilla to part with Kondogbia and make a tidy profit in the process.
Whether it is Fellaini or Kondogbia or even Mohammed Diame, what Manchester United need is a midfield destroyer, a player equally adept at breaking up the play and then driving forward to great effect. Fabregas will not leave Barcelona, not now that Xavi's playing time will be reduced and Fabregas' main rival to be his heir has left for Germany.
So too, with Neymar's arrival, the bulk of the former Arsenal man's playing time should come in his favoured midfield role, rather than as a false nine or wide player. Why then would he leave his boyhood club? Surely Barcelona wouldn't be so reckless as to lose another top midfielder?
So, with Fabregas unattainable and United still in need of a marquee signing to start off the Moyes era, who do they turn their attentions to? Well, another area of concern is in the wide areas where Young, Valencia and Nani all had indifferent seasons. How wonderful would it be for United to replace both Ronaldo and Giggs in one fell swoop?
Unfortunately, such a player would cost upwards of £80 million, a fee that, to me, seems absurd. Bale is 24 and scored 21 goals in 33 appearances in the league last season. In contrast, when Ronaldo was 24, he scored 31 goals in 34 games. Bale is incredible but he is not as good as Ronaldo was at his age and is not worth being the most expensive player in history on the back of one excellent season. If only the market wasn't inflated by the nouveau riche clubs.
That said, Bale would be the ideal marquee signing, not Fabregas. I cannot see Ronaldo and Ronaldo-lite, Bale, sharing the Bernabeu, especially given both play in the same position and that Real Madrid already have Ozil, Isco and Kaka to play behind the strikers (a position in which Bale prospered last season). Yohann Cabaye of Newcastle would be a cheaper, more attainable option if Moyes felt the need for another creative midfield man and yet, it seems that he is not a big enough name to get the fans excited.
This brings me to my final point. Do United need a marquee signing? Big money transfers get fans all excited but big money doesn't necessarily mean quality after all. Surely a great signing would be better. Moyes needs to get off to a great start and build a team good enough to challenge for the title.
It's no use buying a household name and finishing 20 points behind. He needs results, and for me, the player he needs most of all is a midfield destroyer to play alongside Carrick and dominate the midfield, especially given their rivals depth and quality in that area of the pitch, both domestically and in Europe.
Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham have all improved their midfields with signings such as Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Paulinho. United need to do the same because otherwise they will be left behind. Last year, they won the title thanks to Van Persie's goals and their rivals' infighting, inconsistency and failure to improve their squads.
This year, United need to make sure they don't fall into the same trap and signing Geoffrey Kondogbia, or a player of his ilk, would be huge step in the right direction.
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