Thursday, June 30, 2011

Arsenal willing to sell stars' to 'no-threat' Man City, but not United?

Manchester United have been setting the early pace in the summer transfer window with the additions of Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea. The champions have also been linked with Arsenal's Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri; both have just one year left to run on their contracts. However, Arsene Wenger has gone on record saying there's no way Arsenal will sell Nasri to the Red Devils, the Frenchman said "One thing's for sure: we're not selling him to Manchester United". We are trying to extend his deal." That was the position at the beginning of June, but the reality is money talks, and Wenger knows that if he cannot persuade Nasri to sign a new deal then he will have no alternative but to listen to offers.

Arsenal supporters will no doubt be asking how their club has allowed this situation to come about, because surely the pair should have signed new deals some time ago and if they had the Gunners wouldn't find themselves in this position.

City can of course out-bid any of their rivals, including United and so they will be favourites to sign both players. According to the BBC Clichy is currently holding talks with City and so you wonder how long it will before Nasri sorts out his future and will he also be Eastlands bound? Perhaps Wenger doesn't see City as a major threat, clearly that is not the case with United....

From a United perspective, it is by no means certain that Nasri would be a total success - every new player represents something of a gamble - prior to signing him, who would have predicted that Veron would have failed so miserably at Old Trafford?

It's true the champions need to sign someone who can create and score goals from midfield; Nasri scored 20 goals last season - a healthy return for a striker never mind a midfield player. Nonetheless, there are question marks about Nasri's ability and willingness to defend when required...

Manchester City cannot realistically sign every United transfer target and talk of Nasri signing might yet turn out to be a double bluff by Fergie. United are still hoping to sign Wesley Sneijder from Inter Milan or Modric from Spurs, it looks like being a very interesting transfer window and the guessing games look set to continue.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fergie's spending looks set to continue, but Berbatov likely to lead star exodus....

Sir Alex Ferguson has been busy in this summer's transfer window; the club has already signed Phil Jones, and back in May the manager took the unusual step of announcing the expected arrival of Spanish stopper David de Gea.

According to the latest reports, Ashley Young has passed a medical and so it is only a matter of time before he signs a deal reported to be worth around £17m; once those transfers have been completed it will mean Fergie has spent over £50m this summer and if we are to believe the rumour mill, then United will make at least one more signing before the window closes.

Despite his comments at the beginning of June that he wants to stay with Inter Milan, United are still being strongly linked with Wesley Sneijder, who earlier this week responded to speculation about joining the champions when saying "we shall see"...

While United fans will be hoping Sneijder is the final piece of the jigsaw, they will also no doubt be anticipating one or two star exits. Given the manager's spending thus far, it is a racing certainty that the Glazer family will expect Fergie to at least make a stab at balancing the books. Despite finishing joint leading goal-scorer in the Premier League, Dimitar Berbatov will almost certainly be off-loaded, but at this point in time it appears any would be suitors are hanging back - no doubt hoping to sign the player for a knockdown fee.

Wes Brown and Darron Gibson have been linked with summer moves, but as of yet there's nothing definite.

Despite the expected departure of Berbatov, if United sign De Gea and Sneijder then
the manager and everyone connected with the club will have good reason to be confident about the challenges ahead.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Transfer blow for United: Fergie to fudge midfield problems from within? Search for new blood continues...

Manchester United have been dealt another huge transfer blow with the news that Luka Modric has announced his intent to move to Chelsea. The Croatian has confirmed that he has a clause in his contract which allows him to talk to clubs' who are interested in acquiring the Spurs midfield maestro. Although it has been reported that Manchester United and rivals Manchester City were aware of the player's intention to remain in London, it is nonetheless a blow, because both club's have been strongly linked to the player in recent weeks.

Fergie´s number one transfer priority this summer was to find a long-term replacement for the legend that is Paul Scholes. Scholes has this week confirmed what many had suspected, that is it was his diminishing influence in the United squad which led to his decision to quit while still at the top. It was a perfectly understandable decision. While there's no doubt that Scholes was no longer integral to Fergie's plans, the departure of such a well respected player who has done so much for the champions over the years only serves to highlight the glaring issues within the United engine room.

United and the rest of Europe's leading clubs are playing catch-up with Barcelona who currently standalone when it comes to their collective style of play; Barca have the perfect system – one that suits the players within Pep Guardiola´s superb squad. It is stating the bleeding obvious that players of the quality of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta are a rarity - but when you harness all three in the same team, the end result is poetry in motion and it´s no wonder  Barca are sweeping all before them.

While we all look on and admire Barcelona, the rest strive to do something about the Catalans grip.

So the search for answers and new talent goes on for Fergie. The United manager was also strongly linked with Wesley Sneijder, but it looks as though he will be staying  with Inter Milan; of all the players who have been linked to United, the Dutchman was the one who really could have made the difference.

Sami Nasri continues to be linked with United as well as other predators, but Arsene Wenger is  doing all he can to ensure the Arsenal star remains in North London.

Given the problems and the lack of obvious targets, the United manager might well have no other option but to utilise the players already at his disposal, and it´s worth asking what is the point of wasting millions on players like Bebe who will not improve the squad?

United may well turn to Wayne Rooney to provide some of the answers in central midfield: Rooney can pass, tackle, run and score goals; in short he has all the attributes there is no doubt about that. However, if Fergie opts to deploy Rooney in a deeper lying role, he might well need to add another top quality striker to augment his armoury. The United manager could also put the brilliant da Silva twins to good use in the engine room; like Rooney they have the skills for the job, they just lack experience.

Whatever else happens in the transfer market this summer, United fans should not despair; Fergie has so far done a great job and everyone connected with the club will continue to have faith in the manager.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Phil Jones: First of many new arrivals? Fergie building for United's future...

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The transfer news is really hotting up amidst reports that Phil Jones, 19, is having a medical ahead of a £17m transfer to the champions. United are also being strongly linked to Ashley Young, 25, along with Luka Modric, 25, Wesley Sneijder, 26, and Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, 20.

United have a policy of not signing players over the age of 27 and if we are to believe the latest batch of transfer rumours then it looks like the club will once again be buying players who will have a resale value in the future.

The jury might be out on the likes of Ashley Young, but there appears to be a growing consensus about Phil Jones; Wayne Rooney says the Blackburn defender was one of the toughest he'd played against last season. Jones is only 5ft 8in, but he can play in central defence or in midfield, but you wonder if Fergie has plans to play him at right-back and if that is the case then the United manager might well be plotting to move the da Silva twins into midfield.

Whatever happens, it certainly looks like Ferguson is buying some solid building blocks for United's future. Bring it on.

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Ashley Young in, Nani or Berbatov out? United plotting big money moves....

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The one thing Manchester United do not need right now is another winger and yet if we believe the latest transfer rumours Ashley Young could be heading to Old Trafford. The Villa winger has been strongly linked to several clubs including Liverpool, but reports claim United are the favourites to capture the England player in a reported £16m move.

Young is by no means the finished article and so it's worth asking if he is any better, or come to that as good as Park, Nani, or Valencia? Ryan Giggs will retire in the not too distant future and of course he can also play on the left.

Fergie might well reason that in signing Young he is bolstering his options, but with Scholes retiring there is an obvious void to fill in central midfield. United have just won a record 19th league title, but if they are to continue to dominate the Premier League and do well in Europe it is vital that Fergie spends his transfer war chest wisely; top of the transfer short-list should be a central midfield general.

United need someone like Wesley Sneijder or else Luka Modric, but Manchester City are said to be in the running to sign the Dutch midfield play-maker and they can out-bid anyone including Chelsea who are also said to be keen to capture the Inter Milan star.

According to Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, they will not sell Luka Modric - but we can safely ingore this assertion based on events of the recent past. In time honoured fashion, Spurs will hang United out to dry over any transfer fee for Modric, as they did when selling Carrick and Berbatov to the champions. Blackpool's Charlie Adam could be Fergie's 'plan B' for the central midfield slot. In an ideal world Fergie would sign two of the three midfield players mentioned, but will the manager have sufficient transfer funds?

As ever, the fans and media alike have no idea how much money the United manager has at his disposal, but given how little has been spent on transfers since the Glazer family takeover in 2005, it's a fair bet that Ferguson's cash will not stretch that far.

We know that Fergie is very confident about signing Spanish stopper David Gea - but if that deal doesn't come off the United manager will have a serious dollop of egg on his face after he publicly announced his intentions before the deal was cut and's fair to ask, why on earth did Fergie take such a risk?

Whatever happens with Gea, United will more than likely sign three new players this summer, but we could see as many as two big name exits. Ashley Young looks like a racing certainty to join United, as will David Gea hopefully along with either Sneijder, Modric or Adam.

As for likely exists, given that United do not really need to sign Ashley Young, (25), you have to wonder if Nani,(24), will be sacrificed, however, if that scenario actually comes to being then it doesn't really look like a sensible decision given that both players are a similar age and have a similar goals to game ratios (0.20 and 0.21 respectively). Fergie could argue that Young might perform better on the left than the Portuguese winger who was voted the player of the season by his team-mates in 2010-2011. Nani has taken time to settle, but he has proved his worth since Ronaldo moved on. There are no guarantees that Young will do as well as Nani.

Signing Young might make sense if Fergie had pots of money to spend this summer, but his transfer dealing under the Glazer regime suggests that will not be the case and so there must be a serious prospect of a least one big name player exit and if it isn't Nani then maybe Berbatov will be that man.

Berbatov was axed from United's Champions League squad and despite finishing top goal-scorer last season in the Premier League it looks as though his time at United could be coming to an end, thanks largely to the emergence of Javier Hernandez.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

£20m to replace Paul Scholes the quiet man...

So then, Scholesy has called it a day. It didn't come as any great surprise.
In typical style, the 'Ginger Prince' kept his council and ignored the never ending media speculation about his future in those final few weeks of the season.

United wrapped up the Premier League title and then took on mighty Barcelona at Wembley in the Champions League final, for what would be Paul's last competitive game in a United shirt. Next came the open top team bus parade around the streets of Manchester, but still Scholes said nothing about his future. Only then, when all the fuss had died down did news filter through that the little man from Middleton had called time on what has been a glittering career. How typical of Scholes to bow out in this way with no media fanfare.

Scholes will be remembered for many things; his brilliant football brain, his ability to score goals and create them for others, but he won't be remembered for his tackling ability because that was pretty much the only football art he failed to master.

Fergie wanted Scholes to carry on for one more season and you do wonder if there will be any regrets in the coming weeks.

One thing is for certain replacing Scholes is going to be a costly exercise with talk of United having to battle it out with moneybags Man City for the services of Wesley Sneijder. United are also being strongly linked to Luka Modric at Spurs with speculation claiming that a £20m plus move is in the offing. Reading between the lines, it seems that the Croatian could be Fergie's backup plan should the United manager lose out on Sneijder who has been making noises about staying with Inter Milan.