The list of superstars being linked with moves to Manchester United this summer was always going to be one which continually grew in length.
Initially it was only the biggest names in the most eye-catching positions which were the talk of the town; the Edinson Cavanis’ and the Cesc Fabregas’ of the footballing world. However, as was to be expected as we draw closer to the transfer window, the search has widened, the pool has expanded and far more realistic transfer options are being linked with the Old Trafford entrance.
Coincidentally it’s only now that players who United actually need are being named in connection with moves at this season’s end. The fair-weather supporters and neutrals around the world may have been clamouring at the prospect of the world’s best players joining David Moyes’ cause, but, let’s face it, with the best will in the world the majority of transfer rumours were never going to come to fruition.
However now we seem to have got over the endless streams of wild speculation there’s a far more pressing issue which Moyes must consider. Who does he choose to chase out of the targets he knows he can probably land?
Firstly, there must be a focus on the most important area in dire need of a substantially brilliant revamp. For me people shouldn’t be looking any further than the centre of defence. The majority of United’s shortcomings this season haven’t so much been found in their failure to score goals, but their unprecedented flaws at the back which have led to them conceding goals to teams who shouldn’t really be posing much of a problem.
If that isn’t enough of a reason for Moyes to look for a new long-term centre-back then the imminent departure of Nemanja Vidic unequivocally seals the deal. Naturally Mats Hummels and Eliaquim Mangala have been bandied about, as has long-standing target Ezequiel Garay. Despite this, the name that rings out loudest for me, and not for the right reasons, is Alex.
Supporters of the Premier League will remember him largely from his time at the heart of Chelsea’s defence, but he currently plies his trade with French champions Paris Saint-Germain. He’s a redoubtable soul, no doubt, and his strength both on and off the ball cannot be ignored. All things considered though, he is poorly suited to leading the back-line for Moyes.
In only three months the Brazilian defender will turn 32, which is the root of the problem when discussing his unsuitability for a United berth. First and foremost the Red Devils will be looking to spend money with half an eye on immediately regaining the ground they have lost to their nearest domestic rivals in the wake of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but the other half will almost certainly be aiming to ensure their future is one which promises a continuation of glory, not the dismal showings they’ve endured this campaign.
During his time at Chelsea, and his subsequent venture at the Parc des Princes with PSG, Alex has forged successful partnership with whomever he is placed alongside. That being said on those occasions the other halves of the partnerships happened to be John Terry and Thiago Silva. Both men are dominant defenders who lead from the back and therefore, one would assume, make it easy for players to fall in alongside them.
At United there are no such characters to be found in the defence currently. Whoever it is Moyes looks to bring in needs to replace Vidic in terms of leadership as well as quality. Can Alex be that player? I would be inclined to hazard my guess at no.
For me, there’s plenty better than Alex, so long as Moyes wants to sufficiently replenish the heart of his squad with someone who will inspire in the manner that Vidic did.