It wasn’t so much a cruel twist of fate as an occurrence which is becoming alarmingly regular over at Manchester United which grabbed headlines this morning.
The vast majority of them would have gone to bed last night soundly in the knowledge that a deal for long-term target Ander Herrera was close to being finalised. Instead they woke up to a statement on the Athletic Bilbao website which confirmed they had rejected a €36million bid from the former Premier League champions.
Needless to say that it immediately threw into immense doubt the scores of reports from yesterday which claimed, amongst other things, that the 24-year-old had agreed to a four-year contract worth £9million and already completed a medical ahead of the proposed switch.
Sadly it’s becoming an increasingly popular trend for United fans to have their hopes raised with regards to clinching a high-profile European name, only to see them dashed for one reason or another. It’s largely been a staple of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson period, and a routine which supporters are no doubt growing frustrated with hastily.
Of course every cloud has a silver lining, or so they say, and as one transfer appears to fall apart another is almost always waiting in the wings to take its place. In this case it’s United’s pursuit of Juventus star Arturo Vidal, last seen dramatically bolstering his stock with brilliant performances for Chile at the World Cup.
Speculation today would have you believe that Vidal’s agent Fernando Felicevich is ready to hold talks over a potential move away from Turin this summer, and United are amongst those in line to book an appointment. There’s every chance at this point they’re struggling to divide their attentions concerning transfer targets, particularly with Van Gaal not being active officially until after the World Cup, but in my mind they need to forget the likes of Herrera and Luke Shaw, for now at least; Vidal is the man they need.
Vidal has showcased in Brazil exactly how potent he is going forward against top quality opposition, and there’s plenty of people in Italy who will attest to how influential he can be on his day. With United having lacked the verve and panache with which Paul Scholes orchestrated proceedings since the fiery playmaker’s retirement, every effort needs to be made to replace him with a man who can arguably get close to the level he annually operated at.
It’s not a mark of disrespect to Herrera, but he simply isn’t in the same bracket as Vidal. As important as he is for Bilbao, he’s the type of understated player who often goes about his business without too much wow factor incorporated. Don’t get me wrong, the Basque-born midfielder is a top draw asset, but capturing Vidal would do far more for United in terms of boosting them ahead of a pivotal season.
Van Gaal’s admiration
United’s new boss is a serial offender when it comes to admiring Vidal’s talents, and it stands to reason that he will indeed focus his intentions on luring the 27-year-old to Old Trafford if given half the chance.
The 62-year-old is already reportedly growing impatient with Ed Woodward’s inability to land the targets he has given him, and the latest rejection on the Herrera front - regardless of how little it may mean in the long run - will re-open the painful wounds from last summer which he will have been hoping to have swept under the carpet with his own transactions.
There’s plenty of aspects of United’s squad that need to be improved if they are to mount a credible title challenge next season, but whilst pursuits for Shaw and Herrera may dominate the public eye, it’s a fully-concentrated move for Vidal which needs to be prioritised.