With the Champions League final officially bringing club football to an end for the summer and no World or European Championships to look forward to we now enter the barren wastelands of weekend afternoons without Jeff Stelling, Chris Kamara and co or Monday nights without the entertaining Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher and instead our sports news headlines are dominated by our local county cricket teams. A desperate time for football fans alike.
All is not lost though and we wake each morning eagerly awaiting our club’s latest signing or heavily linked player in the crazy world of the transfer market. As the wheel continues to turn, with every revolution a new player is linked and someone, somewhere has become unsettled and is suddenly available but the lack of credibility to these stories begin to wear thin and what once brought you hope now brings a wry sarcastic smirk of disbelief. One thing we can be almost guaranteed with United though is plenty of activity this summer, let’s take a look at the inevitable revolving door at Old Trafford over the next couple of months…
Starting at the back it is looking increasingly likely David De Gea will leave the club. The lure of Madrid taking our star player once again following the likes of Beckham, Heinze, Van Nistelrooy and of course Ronaldo. When De Gea does go United will have a plan, they won’t let him leave without a plan in place.There is talk of Casillas coming our way or Cech with only a year on his contract remaining, Valdes is already here but possibly the best option out there is Tottenham’s highly rated Hugo Lloris who at the age of 28, has plenty of fuel left in his tank and has expressed his desire to play Champions League football. He is capable of being United’s no.1 for the next 10 years.
Defensively we seem sound at left back, Luke Shaw’s hefty price tag all but assuring his place as first choice full back, if he can stay fit. Starting just 15 league games last season is a worry but with cover from the likes of Marcos Rojo and Van Gaal’s favourite Daley Blind we can move across the line to right back. This is an interesting one, with Antonio Valencia assuming the role, his attacking threat is there for all to see, his speed, power and fitness does terrorise defences when in full throttle. Defensively he has been prone to an error or two, notably his horrendous back pass in the FA cup quarter final which led to Danny Welbeck’s winner, could we have been looking at United lifting the trophy this season had he not of made this mistake? Quite possibly. Van Gaal does not like, or trust Rafael it seems, chances strictly limited to a few substitute appearances, he can be brash at times but he does wear his heart on his sleeve and his passion is refreshing to see.
It is at centre back where United need to strengthen, it is looking all the more likely Jonny Evans may leave, touted as a future captain a few seasons ago, could go for as little as £5 million. Mat Hummels has been strongly linked and would make an excellent edition, a world cup winner, a ball winner and more importantly a defender who is confident on the ball.
In midfield a real shake up is needed, with the signing of Memphis Depay already secured and unless a substantial bid comes in for Angel Di Maria should be staying put for at least another year it must surely be time to send out our very own number 11 Adnan Januzaj out on loan, the talent is there for all to see but the frustration watching the obvious but very raw talent will only improve with game time, game time he must find elsewhere. Michael Carrick, more than ever had shown his importance last season but at 34 years of age and only 16 league appearances, injuries creeping into his game, an inevitable signing is needed here. Ilkay Gundogan, another Dortmund player heavily linked and reportedly seen in Manchester is looking a likely signing, he too though, needs to prove his fitness. Paul Pogba is the name on everybody’s lips at the moment, whether he would make a return to Old Trafford remains to be seen – staying in Juventus, rumours seem to have cooled on Arturo Vidal this season but an unsung hero is Claudio Marchisio, a genuine talent who provides grit and determination and scored one of the goals for Italy that beat England in last years World Cup.
Up front, more than ever, we need to buy. Radamel Falcao has gone, Robin Van Persie will surely go and the best thing for James Wilson, who we all want to see become a great must be to go out on loan and gain the experience he needs. We have Mata, Depay, Fellaini and Young to name a few with goals in them but only Wayne Rooney as our recognised striker. Edinson Cavani seems expensive and is knocking on the door of the 30 year old club, Christian Benteke is available but unproven at Champions League level. Karim Benzema has been linked and seems the most logical.
Manchester United must use leverage wisely, if indeed De Gea goes to Madrid, let us use Benzema as the bargaining chip, or a less likely Gareth Bale who has pledged himself to Madrid again this season. The same can be said of Van Persie, who will not command a high fee but can be used as a make weight and bargaining tool for any of the best young players out there. Let’s not forget Hernandez is returning, he should stay, he is a goal scorer, proven. He may not drag his team mates through when needed but he guarantees movement, he will pull defenders this way and that leaving Rooney the space he needs for likes of Mata to pick his passes. Something Falcao and Van Persie were not able to do last season.
One thing for sure, the transfer merry go round and rumour mill will not sleep.