Manchester United’s failure in the summer transfer market has been well documented.
A better performance from David Moyes and Ed Woodward in January has gained greater importance with every stuttering performance from the post-Fergie era.
While Moyes is rumoured to be seeking redemption by redialling the numbers that previously led to nothing and completing unfinished business in Ander Hererra and Leighton Baines, there are better alternatives in their respective positions.
Adnan Januzaj’s rise from relative anonymity to football’s hottest property has already demonstrated the importance of trusting youth. United are a club who have always balanced nurturing their own precocious talents with prizing away the products of other academies and slapping a red devil on their chest before their old enough for their first legal drink. Baines, whilst arguably the best left-back in the league, will be 29 by January.
Just three years Evra’s junior, he will be little more than stop-gap. Meanwhile Luke Shaw, at 18, represents a better long term investment and can be groomed as Evra’s successor rather than further confuse Moyes in his, thus far, unsuccessful attempts to decide on a regular back four. The last young left back to move from Southampton to a bigger Premier League club did not turn out too bad.
The former Arsenal man is little more than a squad member at Barcelona. The incredible collection of majestic La Masia midfielders has left him with little chance of becoming a regular starter in his favoured role. Being first choice for United and rekindling his telepathic understanding with Robin van Persie would perhaps be a more attractive prospect for him than living off sparse appearances, often as a makeshift centre back.
For United, Song offers Premier League experience, a player capable of providing RVP with the service that will bring an end to a run of quiet performances this season (despite his seven goals). He would be the dominant midfield presence, that Fellaini has thus far failed to be, and provide a level of creativity that yielded 14 assists in his final season in north London.
There are some who consider the Championship a harder league to succeed in than the Premiership. No more is this suggestion felt than in the minefields of midfield, where maestros can be battered and bullied into silent displays. This has not been the case with Will Hughes. Derby’s 18-year-old general has earned comparisons to Steven Gerrard and is a player in the mould of Jack Wilshere.
Despite his light frame, deft touch, and possessing the silky style befitting of someone with a far more Iberian surname, he seems to thrive in the relentless battles and contests that England’s second tier has thrown his way.
New boss, Steve McClaren is resigned to losing him to a Premier League team, and it seems whoever poaches him will be gaining a new heartbeat to build the body of their team around. Indeed, Moyes will do well to convince the devout Liverpool fan to betray the opportunity to become Gerrard’s successor and turn down Rodgers' revolution.
If he can, United will have one of the most exciting English starlets and a player with the talent and mentality to fight for an immediate starting berth.
“The next Xavi” is some billing. One never given to Ander Herrera. Koke and Isco’s mercurial talents first attracted comparisons to Xavi and Iniesta after they combined in the U-17 World Cup in 2009.
While Isco exploded into the global consciousness with his performances for Malaga last season, Koke has rivalled him for the title of La Liga’s brightest young player this year. At the heart of Atletico’s incredible start to the season, he is an all-round midfielder who combines typically Spanish technical abilities with a slightly more direct style.
His style is arguably more suited to a move to the Premier League than to, rumoured suitors, Barcelona. His age, 21, means he could be United’s chief orchestrator for a decade.
The diminutive Newcastle playmaker fits the bill of a midfield maestro, creative in possession and tenacious in the tackle that United have been lacking since Scholes’ retirement. His Premier League experience and current form bodes well for a January move, eliminating the acclimatisation period that would need to be afforded to imports from foreign leagues.
Furthermore, Cabaye’s unfulfilled Champions League ambitions reduce the chance of him joining the proud list of midfielders who have rejected Moyes with the coldness of a supermodel being prepositioned by a poor drunk. After a summer in which he was dubbed “Yohan Kebab” by Joe Kinnear and sulked over a botched potential transfer, Newcastle can count themselves lucky to have enjoyed a few extra months of the French international.
Arsenal are unlikely to reignite their interest from the summer, as a result of Aaron Ramsey’s transformation from Tom Cleverley’s Welsh equal to Zidane’s Welsh heir. So a bid in the region of just £15 million should secure the services of a player immediately available for the Champions League and approaching his peak, at 27.
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