Manchester United / Barcelona midfield target, Keano and Sunderland, Becks out of Europe XI

A quick recap of this morning’s news:

1. David Albelda, 29, defensive midfielder and captain of Valencia, has refused a new contract offer from Valencia and now the rumor mill in Spain is working overtime with Barcelona in the horizon and on course to pry Albelda away from Mestalla.

While I understand the need for Barcelona to add a pure holding midfielder to their squad, I’m also wondering whether that could signal a departure of another midfield player from Barcelona (even though Xavi and Deco play different roles to Albelda).

And while I know Albelda is probably not going to turn down Barcelona if a concrete offer comes in, but does Albelda have the quality to play for Manchester United? He has the experience, for sure, and he will bring a lot of strength to Manchester United’s midfield. Whether he’s good enough is another question (but he’s good nuff for Valencia, isn’t he?).

Such a switch would mean that Carrick would have to play further upfront and be more attacking – I’m sure he can do that, and it would be good to see Carrick being more attacking for Manchester United.

2. Chris Bevan from BBC Sport profiles Roy Keane’s success at Sunderland. To put things into perspective, Sunderland had lost 4 straight games and were bottom of the Championship when Keano took over in the early stages of this season. Sunderland were 12th at the turn of the year, and they have not lost this year during Sunderland rise to 4th spot and their push towards automatic promotion.

Keano has the tactical nous, discipline and man-management skills (ok, motivational skills) to take a club forward. He may not have the same level of success if (when) Sunderland reach the Premiership, but it’s good to see him doing so well after the way he left Manchester United.

3. Beckham’s knee injury against Getafe on Sunday means that the former Manchester United star will miss 3 of the most important games of his season through injury – The second leg of the Champions League second round clash against Bayern Munich, England’s Euro 2008 qualifier against Israel (he wouldn’t have been selected for it though) and Europe XI vs Manchester United at Old Trafford next week.

Which one would he have liked to play most in? I’d wager it was the Old Trafford game – it’s as good as a testimonial he would ever get, and it’s unfortunate that he won’t be playing.

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