Less than 72 hours after their opening day defeat to Swansea City, Manchester United have clinched their third major signing of the summer, or so the papers would have you believe.
On the back of the concerns over defensive deficiencies being confirmed at the hands of both Ki and Gylfi Sigurdsson - who put Garry Monk’s side 1-0 and 2-1 up respectively - a deal is thought to have been agreed for Sporting Lisbon star Marco Rojo, with the player himself indicating such a belief with his comments this morning.
The Argentina star is young, hungry, ambitious and in-form. In short, he’s everything United don’t need at the moment. Though no doubt a useful addition given his natural athleticism and competitive desire, Rojo is far from the defensive addition fans were expecting to see this summer.
The initial dream
At the very dawn of Van Gaal’s appointment there were dreams of Mats Hummels picking up Nemanja Vidic’s mantle were the legendary Serb placed it down, and even Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen was heralded as a potential cure to United’s most blatant troubles prior to his £15 million switch to Barcelona.
Yet now the transfer window is quickly approaching it’s final hours and United remain worryingly devoid of natural leadership at the back. In that sense the loss on Saturday was the icing on a very sour tasting cake.
The panic buy
Cue the frantic rush to find a defender of some repute and the eventuality of an agreement being struck for the transfer of Rojo for around £15.9 million plus the promise of Nani on loan heading the other way. United fans may be thankful to see any sort of name supposedly on their way to Old Trafford, but the more wary of followers will most certainly agree with the notion that the 24-year-old is in fact a ‘panic-buy’.
Having only ever competed in divisions deemed far below the standard of the Premier League, Rojo doesn’t promise experience or a history bathed in football at the highest level. On the contrary, it could be argued that his eye-catching displays at the World Cup are the sole reason for the heightened interest in his signature, and there isn’t a fan alive who isn’t aware of the potential pitfalls present when buying based on form shown at a major international tournament.
Then there’s the question of whether or not Rojo actually fixes any of the problems in Van Gaal’s back line. The trio of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans aren’t short of passion to do well, but the triumvirate is starved of the sort of leadership skills which Vidic so effortlessly oozed.
Does Rojo add anything?
It’s perhaps that point which drives the point closest to home with regards to this particular argument, as Van Gaal was widely expected to be acquiring the sort of player who wouldn’t be phased were he to be handed the armband. Rojo on the other hand doesn’t come with a resume which makes those of Jones, Smalling and Evans pale in comparison.
Amongst the furore from the fans and the obvious uncertainty facing his side, Van Gaal simply must not cave under the pressure to buy. The deal for Rojo isn’t going to hinder his side any, but there’s also no evidence to suggest that it’s going to be overly fruitful.
The Argentine may have just this morning described a United move as being a “dream”, but even he would be hard-pressed to claim the feeling was mutual from the club’s point of view.