Saturday 22 March; Manchester United cruised to a 2-0 victory away over a labouring West Ham side. On the same day Bayern Munich replicated that scoreline with a 2-0 win over Mainz in the Bundesliga.
Two similar results, two incredibly different teams. Whilst the three points David Moyes took away from Upton Park meant his side lost no further ground to the teams ahead of them in the table, United still sit seventh in the Premier League and don’t look like they’re moving upwards anytime soon. In stark contrast Pep Guardiola’s Bayern secured their 24th win of a campaign which sees them impossibly repeating the form they enjoyed last term under the since-departed Jupp Heynckes. The Barvarians are first by 23 points. They’re also now unbeaten in 51 domestic games.
Statistics like these are why it’s so hard for me to see speculation linking Toni Kroos with a move to United, and believe it to be fathomable. Far from a reject of the Bayern squad, the 24-year-old has made 40 appearances in all competitions this campaign, already three more than he did last season under Heynckes.
Yet the rumour mill persists in churning out stories that tip the German international to move to Old Trafford this summer - with surprisingly a lack of game-time the most popular reason of choice. Though it’s true he has to fight tooth and nail for every minute he gets on the hallowed turf of the Allianz Arena with the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze and Javi Martinez, is it really enough to push him to a move to a United side which look as though they’re not even going to be in the Champions League next season?
I think not. Even with a £250,000-a-week offer said to be in the pipeline from United’s end, there just isn’t enough on the table to convince me that Kroos will drop his position with the best team on the planet in order to be part of the rebuilding process Moyes will be hoping to oversee as of the summer transfer window.
For that reason, primarily, the Scot needs to save face by giving up the ghost early on. Ironically it’s an exit at the hands of Bayern in this year’s Champions League which could effectively end all hopes of them participating in the tournament next season, as they’ve all but ruled themselves out of the running for a top four finish. And make no mistake, that would be the icing on the cake in terms of their capabilities when it comes to landing Kroos. As we’ve already established, the midfielder will not jump ship to a team which isn’t playing in Europe’s elite tournament.
Ridiculous as it sounds, Moyes should nip the Kroos to United speculation in the bud as soon as he can. Whilst he stands to lose nothing by doing so, he could do plenty of damage if he embarks on a fanciful transfer saga which could ultimately see his - and United’s - reputation taking yet another knock. For make no mistake, if Moyes tries and fails to lure Kroos, regardless of the stipulations surrounding the deal, the German will join the same pile as Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara - the players Moyes wasn’t big enough to attract.
Whilst it’s an admirable notion to battle against the odds, in this particular case it would almost certainly be in vain. The reigning Premier League champions would be far better served aiming their sights towards players who are more acquirable. United may have a history finely coated in glory, but their contemporary shortcomings are far too out in the open for anyone of Kroos’ calibre to ignore.