We’re barely half-way through this year’s winter transfer window and already the levels of regurgitated gossip have hit a point of where it’s no longer a surprise to see Europe’s biggest spenders linked with outlandish bids for football’s biggest names.
But whilst there’s an inexhaustible amount of attention and detail offered to the rumours concerning who certain teams should opt to try and bring in during the month of January, there’s rarely any opinions to be found when it comes to the individuals that teams should actively avoid.
Why this is the case remains a mystery to me, as it’s virtually guaranteed that there will be far more buys this month who turn out to be flops in relation to the money paid for them, than there will be bargain buys or astute pieces of business.
And it’s for this reason predominantly that I believe David Moyes must tread carefully when considering which personnel to focus on bringing in to reinvigorate his troubled squad.
Though it can be assumed for the most part that the foreign targets he will pursue this January will have been poured over by scouts, and any weak links therefore well documented, fortune-changing acquisitions at this stage of the season can be a notoriously tricky venture, particularly for a man in Moyes’ shoes.
As such transfer targets need to be treated with delicacy. For example, the idea of United flexing their financial muscle towards the likes of Juventus’ Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio is an intriguing prospect, and one that you would welcome were you a supporter of the reigning Premier League champions.
Both men have quantified experience as the highest level of European football and, though they have made their names amongst the slow-paced Serie A, are ideal candidates to be tasked with adding a much needed spark to a United midfield which has been considerably dreary this season. In contrast, Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera is not.
Though Manchester United came within touching distance of signing the 24-year-old in the summer, it was in the midst of heightened controversy that they didn’t. And though in the summer he may well have been a pragmatic and meaningful signing, for this month he poses an incredible risk.
Herrera is defensively gifted, and in time will no doubt move on from Bilbao to a team more fitting of his expansive qualities, but at the moment he is not at the required level to be able to tasked with curing United’s woes. Not only do United need someone who will bring with them a degree of leadership and experience in Europe’s elite competitions, but they need someone who will lift the atmosphere of the changing rooms in a bid to kick-start their resurgence.
Given his importance to the cause at Bilbao it’s unlikely they will willing to part with their star midfielder for anything less than his €36million release clause and, for me at least, the potential benefits of a successful transfer do not outweigh the risks Moyes would be taking on board.
Then there’s the matter of yet another public rejection, the like of which the United boss can ill-afford again. Only last month did Herrera state that he would happy to remain with his current club and, should Moyes one again miss out on another priority signing, the fortunes at Old Trafford, and therefore it's safe to conclude the morale, would be at an all-time low.
There is a definite need for new faces in the United squad, but the manager needs to realise that a wrong transfer could be just as damaging as none at all.