The ‘Hargreaves to Manchester United’ story has been done to death, with so many false rumours floating around that you’d be hard pressed to find any single shred of truth in all this mess.
The only reason the ‘Bale to Manchester United’ rumours are palatable is because they’ve drowned out the ‘Torres to Manchester United’ rumours – thank the rumour mills for that.
Right now, one thing is clear for sure – Manchester United are looking to strengthen in all areas of the squad, and here’s how I think they’re going about it.
Van der Sar (till 2008), Kuszczak, Ben Foster, Tim Howard. We’ve got four of them, but apart from EVDS it’s doubtful that Ferguson is willing to trust the future of Manchester United in their hands just yet. Still, there’s 6 more months to go, and United will anxiously be looking at other alternatives as they try to find a buyer for Tim Howard and try to figure out whether Ben Foster and Thomas Kuszczak are good enough for Old Trafford.
Manchester United fans would like the club to move for Buffon, but we’re not playing Football Manager, are we? Ferguson will wait till the summer and evaluate the performances of Foster and Kuszczak before making any moves. Might be too late for Buffon by then.
Pique will return from Real Zaragoza next year with a real claim to be on the bench, at least. That causes problems for Wes Brown (27, and out of contract in summer 2008). John O’Shea will live thanks to his versatility and Silvestre is already tied up till 2009, but Brown’s running out of time (especially with Jonny Evans in the background, along with Simpson).
The one good thing for Brown could be Phil Bardsley talents, or the lack of them. Brown is a decent right-back and good cover for Gary Neville. If Bardsley doesn’t pan out as a long-term prospect for Manchester United, Brown could stay?
Incidentally, Bardsley is rumoured to go on loan to Aston Villa later this month.
Will Manchester United buy defenders in January? Bale is the only likely target, and even if he’s brought in he’ll be sent out on loan again (back to Southampton maybe, or West Ham / Newcastle).
Owen Hargreaves, Owen Hargreaves, Owen Hargreaves. Deals ranging from 15 mil to 30 mil. Bayern flip-flopping from “we’ll never sell” to “we need to bring in reinforcements first”. Rumours that Hargreaves has booked a plane ticket to Manchester (even though his family is in Leicester).
I’m not sure Hargreaves will be brought in this season, especially since Manuel Fernandes now represents a cheaper, younger and more versatile option. For sure, the Hargreaves-Carrick pairing will be fantastic in the years to come (both are exceptionally talented in my view), but Fernandes does represent a 7-8 mil option. At half Hargreaves’ price, Ferguson ‘could’ be tempted.
Manchester United will ‘probably’ negotiate a deal to bring in Hargreaves in the summer. If you don’t remember, Hargreaves is coming back from a long-term injury and it will take him 1-2 months to recover his form. By that time, we’d be at the end of March.
Why pay 15 mil for him now, when you could use that money elsewhere and possibly pay less in the summer to get him?
Other than that? Fernandes is a good option, although we should be going for a more attacking midfielder (not David Bentley, please) who can score (unlike our token Korean Ji-Sung Park).
Oh please. Torres is not coming till the summer, Villa isn’t coming till the summer and even Defoe aint coming.
Ferguson will watch Rossi’s progress before deciding what type of striker he needs to buy next year. Smith could be sold, although he might just be sent out on loan first.
Already talked about Bale, so who’s left?
Well, if we’re playing Football Manager, I’d like to see Anderson on Manchester United’s books. Covers our wings, and gives good striking support. And Nuri Sahin, as a long-term midfield investment. Nani’s also an option if Anderson isn’t coming. A shame that Haestad went to Wigan, it would have been nice to bag him as backup for our midfield. Apparently he (and some other Norwegian players) have a band intuitively called “The Players”.