First it was the Spanish newspapers, now the Dutch newsies have jumped in by saying that the Manchester United striker had agreed personal terms with Real Madrid, and that it was now up to the the two clubs to decide on a transfer fee.
As much as this news is distasteful to me as a Manchester United fan, I can not help but wonder if this is a good move for the club? Manchester United currently have 5 senior squad strikers – Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Alan Smith and Giuseppe Rossi. Granted – only Rooney and Saha would be considered first-teamers, but when push comes to shove United have enough in the tank to call upon.
Selling Ruud van Nistelrooy would earn Manchester United anywhere between 10 to 15 million pounds (and please, this time, collect the money up front and do not make it contingent on Champions League appearances) and put one of the highest wage earners off the payroll. In return, United are expected to bid for Fernando Torres, but it looks like another Rooney situation – United will not move this year unless their hand is forced by another big club. Torres knows that United are interested, and he knows that he will be first choice alongside Rooney.
So as far as Torres is concerned, we have to wait and see what happens. Maybe Atletico Madrid will see reason (especially if, after returning from his vacations, Torres confirms that he wants to leave) and reduce the asking price to a more reasonable 25 million pounds. Or we could get him next year when the brouhaha from the World Cup has died down and Torres has had a chance to mature.
Bottom line – Manchester United would like to bring in a new striker, but if that doesn’t work out they have enough to wait out another year.
But coming back to Nistelrooy and Manchester United – when Ferguson said that he expected Ruud to report back to Old Trafford, we wondered if the manager had had his arm twisted by the Glazers and was being asked to make peace. Seeing how the Keano saga played out though, I doubt that will ever happen. Manchester United have belatedly realised (an year too late in my books) that Nistelrooy has to be sold while he will still command a good market price, and the voices out of Old Trafford claiming that he will report back for pre-season training are meant only to keep the news hounds off United’s back.
A move to Real Madrid makes sense – Ronaldo will be crocked because of a knee op, and Ruud’s arrival could very well mean that one of the Madrid strikers (Ronaldo? Cassano?) will be sold off.
This move would also make the much-hoped for Nistelrooy-Hargreaves swap with Bayern Munich a no-go, and it would be interesting to see whether United still make a move for Hargreaves or not. The fact that they ‘should’ is not even contested – This is the best midfielder they can buy for 10 million pounds. Gattuso will be worth 15 million at least, Mascherano the same, Carrick with 12+.
Van Nistelrooy’s agent Rodger Linse has said that “Ruud hopes to state his new club before returning to training with Manchester United on 24 July.”
Interesting choice of words, but when you think about the role Ferguson has to play here, you know that Ruud’s going out, no matter where he goes. Will Madrid put up the $15 million Manchester United are asking? They probably will go for 13 or 14, but both sides are desperate to make the switch (United need the money, Madrid need a new signing).
So now we wait and watch.