Now that Nistelrooy is on his way to Real Madrid and Milan are not relegated (meaning that there’s little chance of Gattuso moving to Manchester United), we have 3-4 players still to buy.
Manchester United may not be linked to Mascherano and Riquelme anymore, but they continue to be linked to two midfielders – Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves.
I’ve talked about Carrick’s suitability to the Manchester United squad before, and my views remain the same: he’s a talented player but at 14 million is overpriced by at least 4 to 6 million. As a big club United can expect this sort of dealing, but its not as if we don’t have other options.
Those other options would be Owen Hargreaves and Kevin Nolan.
England’s best player in the knockout stages of the World Cup and the one quality holding midfielder who is both proven at the top level and not overpriced like Carrick. Hargreaves has considerable Champions League experience, wants to play in England and Bayern will probably let him go for 10 to 14 million. At that price, Hargreaves is a much better buy than Carrick.
Kevin Nolan is one of the best young midfielders in the Premiership. He is, if you will, a cross between Cantona and Keane in tactical and playing style. He’s strong in tackling and in a better club would have rivalled Gerrard and Lampard for the title of best attacking midfielder in the EPL. As it is, Bolton have made him their captain to ensure that he doesn’t leave, but despite an excellent couple of seasons he was left out of the England squad for the World Cup this year. That will hurt, and Nolan is itching for a chance to prove himself in England colours.
The best way he can do that is to get himself transferred to a big club, and Manchester United should be knocking on Bolton’s doors this summer. Kevin Nolan to Manchester United? A long-term replacement for Scholes, as well as the perfect attacking foil to Hargreaves (who is, by the way, no slouch himself – against Portugal he was one of the players getting the farthest forward).
Manchester United don’t need a striker, but going into the new season with only Rooney and Saha is to make a gamble bigger than what Eriksson did with England. United don’t have the luxury of making any mistakes this summer, so they will be looking to pick up a striker asap.
Fernando Torres has been linked for quite a while, but his team-mate in Atletico Madrid may be a much better buy. He would certainly be cheaper than Torres, and with his ability to play both as an out-and-out striker and on the wings in a 4-3-3, Maxi could be the best striker available for 15 million.
The only other name I can think of is Jermaine Defoe who has recently been linked with Manchester United but considering that Rodriguez will bring much needed technical skill to United and that Maxi is as fast as Defoe, all the votes point to AM.
The question is – will United jump for Defoe as the safe choice, Torres for the big gamble or Maxi for the smart move? Knowing our record, I think we will go for Defoe or Torres.
And that would be a mistake.
Manchester United have cash to burn
Before the last season ended, we were told that United had the financial strength to make a 20-25 million bid for Diarra to prise him from Lyon. Now, with the Obi Mikel settlement (12 mil) AND returns from Nistelrooy’s impending sale (10-12 mil), United are looking at anywhere between 40 and 50 million pounds in their hands to spend in the transfer market this summer.
And we need 2 midfielders and a striker.
With the players quoted above, we should be able to buy them, AND sign a defender (will Thuram do a Blanc?) and a keeper (Kuszczack).
We got the cash, we just need to get the players.
Next season’s potential lineup:
First 11: van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic, Heinze, Ronaldo, Hargreaves, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Maxi Rodriguez
Bench: Kuszczack, Brown, Thuram, Saha, Park, Nolan, Smith
And I don’t have to tell you that we could beat ANY team with that line up, do I?