The post season can be a frustrating time for football fans globally. If you’re anything like me you’ll eagerly log on to your computer every morning with the flickering hope that United have officially announced a new player signing. Thankfully we have a delicious diet of Euro 2012 action to tide us over for a month and as soon as this is wrapped up, I expect the transfer season to really kick into life.
A small benefit of being a United fan is the knowledge that traditionally, Sir Alex Ferguson likes to get his transfer business completed early in the window, and indeed we have already wrapped up the singing of wonderkid Nick Powell from Crewe and the deal bringing Shinji Kagawa to Old Trafford is 95% complete. But of course you already know about those (I will come back to Kagawa later in the article).
As usual a flurry of names, big and small, have been linked with United from the moment the transfer window came into sight. There has been much debate as to which areas of the squad Sir Alex will look to strengthen. For me, urgent attention is needed at left back, right back and central midfield. The two names that have been mentioned as back up or even replacements for Patrice Evra are Leighton Baines of Everton and Jordi Alba of Valencia, who is currently impressing for Spain at the Euros. If reports are to be believed, Alba is off to Barcelona, as would seem logical, and Baines is being priced out of a move to United with Everton alleged to be demanding 20 million pounds for their prized asset. United would surely be able to negotiate the price down closer to 10 million on the basis of Everton’s empty transfer kitty. If Baines and Alba are removed from the equation it is difficult to see who United could sign for this position, unless Ferguson is willing to stick with Evra for another year or two and get in a young player like Jetro Willems of PSV. On the other defensive flank, United also have problems. Last season it was a case of plugging a gap on a week by week basis as the contenders for the position failed to claim the starting position for their own. Rafael impressed in patches before two or three horrendous outings, as was the case with young signing Phil Jones. Chris Smalling was solid, if not spectacular before his season was cut short by injury. The news this week that Rafael is on course to commit to a new deal until 2016, is positive news in a year where United have failed to convince certain players to stay here. Perhaps though, a slightly more experienced right back is needed while Rafael continues to develop the mental side of his game. A player who could play both right and left back would be absolutely ideal in United’s current situation, as purchasing two new wide defenders could potentially stretch the budget.
As far as central midfielders go, United have done well to snare two hot properties in Kagawa and Powell. However, these two are both more traditional attack minded players rather than players who would play in a 4-4-2 as deep lying playmakers. With that in mind, I wouldn’t mind seeing a central midfielder signed although I would be very surprised if Sir Alex splashed out 30 million plus on someone like Luka Modric or Wesley Sneijder. A more realistic option could be someone like Marouane Fellaini or Jack Rodwell from Everton, or Yohan Cabaye or Cheick Tiote from Newcastle. I wouldn’t mind at all though if we snatched the more defensive minded Yann M’Vila from under Arsene Wenger’s large nose. Many people have assumed that Anderson will be sold or used as part of a deal for someone like Porto’s James Rodriguez. However, I can’t help but feel that Ferguson will give Anderson one more year to try and remain injury free and realize his potential. Like always though, I might be proved wrong. Finally, on the transfer front, a young player who is reported to be coming to United is Universidad de Chile’s Angelo Henriquez. The young Chilean has struck 9 times in 12 league games and United have reportedly paid for the first rights to a transfer. He certainly looks a talent, having picked up football at a very late age, although a UK work permit could pose a problem or two.
A Word on Kagawa
I can’t help but be excited by United’s Japanese signing in waiting, Shinji Kagawa. Having watched a lot of Asian club and international football, a common trait of Asian players is a high work rate and a real willingness to learn. That is something we see very evidently in Ji-Sung Park. However, I can’t help but wonder how he is going to be used by Sir Alex Ferguson. For the Japanese team, he plays wide left to accomodate Keisuke Honda in the middle of the park, although Kagawa’s favoured position by his own admission is behind the central striker. For this to occur, United are going to have to shy away from the traditional 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formations. The most viable formation would be a 4-2-3-1 with Rooney up top, Kagawa in behind, and Valencia, Young and Nani competing for the two wide positions. This formation also means that neither the rapidly improving Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez would make the line-up, which is why I scoff at reports that United are going to splash out 20 million pounds on Polish striker Robert Lewandowski.
I can’t wait for the new season to start so that everything I have predicted in this article can be proved wrong. It’s one of the best things about supporting United, you never know what Sir Alex Ferguson is going to do.
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