For centuries some of the greatest minds in history have strived to unlock the secret of alchemy (How to turn base metal into gold). Two years ago, football agents stumbled upon a similar formula; How to transform a players contract from a well-paid one into a mega-salary.
Step one, take a top footballer from one of the worlds best teams (Ronaldo, Kroos, Alves ect.). Acting as their agent release a statement containing the words Manchester United and interest. Then, sit back and watch as the inevitable media-frenzy begins. Follow on by having your player tell the world that he is flattered by the interest.
Step two, wait until an increasingly desperate Manchester United come knocking at your door, with an eye-watering contract for your player to sign. Armed with this information, approach the parent-club, or other would-be suitors and issue forth your demands. Keep up appearances in the media as said club begins to fret at the prospect of their star man being tempted by United´s mega-bucks.
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And finally, pick up the phone and accept your man´s current employers vastly improved contract offer. All that is left, is to parade the player before the world´s media to announce that they had never intended leaving the club in the first instance. And hey presto, you are sitting on a King´s ransom for your part in the plot.
Step forward Neymar, the latest in a long line of players to realise that being linked with Manchester United can be extremely beneficial to their bank-balance. His agent has coyly leaked that his player would consider quitting the Camp Nou for Manchester (as per the Guardian). No doubt he too, will prove as successful in his efforts to acquire a massively improved contract, as did the last incipient of the Gold Trafford effect, Sergio Ramos.
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The idea that Barcelona´s Neymar would swap the treble-winners and one of the greatest football squads ever assembled, for a United team struggling through a difficult transition-period, is a fantastical one. Sure, it makes for great headlines, but `Harry Potter´ has more basis in reality than this rumour.
At least this time the United board has not proved willing folly for the scam, by publicly declaring an interest. Thus, saving the club from being reduced to being the butt of the biggest joke in football. The club would be better served by acquiring quality and realistic targets that genuinely desire to play for the club.
The five summer signings all fit the bill. Two more of their ilk and Van Gaal might be able to work his alchemy on this current United squad. A return to winning ways is the only way the club will ever capture the superstars they so crave.
Do you think Manchester United can still sign the best players?