Another season was won or lost, depending on which club you support, but there’s one thing in common for all football fans, come June. ‘It’s the time to transfer!’
Every tabloid has its own set of exclusive speculations, and if all of them were to be true, none of us would remain fans in a few years. But even though the absence of matches makes this an almost drought-like period of the year, transfer talk is a lot of fun too.
In a transfer window series here, I’d like to give my opinions on who should be out and who should be in, for all the top clubs. Let’s get started with the champions of England — Manchester United.
Though a comprehensive defeat versus Barcelona maybe considered a blip by many a United fan, I personally think it was a wake-up call for arguably the best club on the planet.
True, the last time Liverpool won the Premiership, I was in my nappies. And Chelsea are a shock defeat away from a 2 year barren run. However, I expect both those clubs to build their squads next season and improve on their performances. Arsenal, with Arshavin and a bunch of exceptionally talented youngsters all a year older, cannot be discounted too. If they let their Adebayor striker go, they will make a few useful additions as well.
So basically, United will also need to improve to hold on to their domestic crown and, as fans would bellow, stop Barcelona in Europe.
As a squad, I believe United have the most complete and dependable bunch of players in the world. Every position has at least two players who can do a job in the Premier League.
However, to be the force that their fans (and manager, undoubtedly) want Manchester United to be, I believe the time is right for a few strong decisions. A disclaimer before you proceed further down- this is all my opinion, and open to ridicule and disagreement. And commendation, if I might add.
The gaffer may not think Carlos Tevez is worth as much money as MSI believe him to be worth. But if Cristiano Ronaldo is on his way out, as I strongly suspect, then allowing Tevez to leave will mean two of ‘The Holy Trinity’ of the 2007-08 season will be out of United. Hardly the sort of continuity you would hope for in a champion outfit.
However, since he has been critical of his club’s distinguished manager on a couple of occasions alteast, I would let him go. Not every Argentine international will agree to be their club’s 3rd choice striker, and that is understandable. Instead of coming out with a temporary solution, I would rather solve the problem more permanently. In Wellbeck and Macheda, we have good 4th and 5th strikers. And since Rooney and Berbatov are the gaffer’s first choice strike pair, I’ll go for another youngster who is not much above 20 years old.
Also from Argentina, Sergio Aguero is a highly promising striker. His potential, along with Man United’s history of developing youngsters into finished products, makes me believe he is the man to fill Tevez’s boots. Since he didn’t have a great end to the season, I believe 20 million pounds will be more than enough for bringing him where his heart his (or atleast I got that impression from reading a few of his interviews).
If United manage to get around 70 million pounds for Ronaldo, the Aguero purchase means 50 pounds is still at the manager’s disposal. With this money, I’d bring in Ribery and Valencia, letting one of Park and Nani leave. There are strong arguments against both sales, but I believe Tosic has got good promise too, so one will have to go to generate money as well as to avoid unnecessary wide men in the squad.
Mamadou Sakho may not be a household name, but there are strong reasons to believe United havemore than just an eye out for him. Though Evans had a decent first season, he is not yet Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic yet. And with no other backup for that position, the prodigious 19 year old PSG captain should be a good buy, especially considering his versatility as a defender. Around 10 million pounds should be enough, though the figure may just stretch a little considering the other clubs interested in him.
Owen Hargreves, totally absent from the Red devils’ 2008-09 campaign, will be like a new acquisition for Sir Alex. His tough tackling and excellent workrate should make him a critical player in Champions league football, and his versatility and quality should boost United further, come next season.
Ultimately, this new squad looks somewhat like this:
Rooney and Berbatov up front centrally, with Aguero just missing out. Wellbeck and Macheda should keep all 3 (including Berbatov) on their heels.
Ribery and Valencia are both good wingers, one more established than the other. Along with Nani (or Park) and Tosic, they form a neat set of wide men. The first two should put up fine ‘performances’ and will do a good job if they can keep Wayne Rooney interested in the centre.
Owen Hargreaves comes back to a burgeoning United central midfield squad of Carrick, Scholes, Giggs, Fletcher and Anderson. Excepting for a couple of them, all will be a year older and wiser.
Mamadou Sakho is inducted into a United defence with almost all areas covered, atleast on paper. Though essentially a long term investment, Paris St Germaine’s youngest ever captain at 17 years should make some immediate impact as well.
Under Sir Alex Fergusson, this squad has all the signs of a meaner, hungrier and slightly better rounded unit. Though Ronaldo and Tevez will be missed, playing Rooney in the centre should be a plus.
Also, Ribery and Valencia will certainly not be expected to be this team’s weak links. If they settle in reasonably quickly, Chelsea and Liverpool (need I mention Arsenal) fans better be ready for another season of non-stop jibing from the intolerable bunch of Manchester United fans (of which I am proudly a part of!).