Manchester United has had a torrid start to the summer transfer period with no new players coming in, United stars not setting the World Cup alight (that Ronaldo has been United’s best player in the World Cup says it all) and key stars (Ruud and Ronaldo) being linked to unceremonious exits from Manchester United.
In all this, there has been some indication (if you cut out the loads of media speculation that has linked United with everyone from Mascherano to Aldu Duscher) that Manchester United is after a select number of targets handpicked to help the club perform to expectations in the next season. One of these players I’ve already talked about – Owen Hargreaves. The second on this list is Stephen Appiah.
Ghana’s captain was linked initially to Arsenal (and still is) because of the inevitable comparisons with Patrick Vieira, and rumours state that Arsenal could make a 7 million pound bid to Fenerbahce for him. However, United seem to have put their policy of looking at high-profile midfielders such as Diarra and Riquelme on hold and might be going after the quiet, efficient class of midfielder – a role Appiah fits perfectly. He was Ghana’s leading player in the 2006 World Cup and could well be one of the key signings this summer.
Appiah’s agent has confirmed that two clubs in the Premiership are after him, with both clubs having qualified for the Champions League. All signs point to Arsenal and United.
Two questions here: Will Appiah fit into Manchester United, and will United go for him (instead of merely inquiring and then letting Arsenal snap him up)?
Appiah shoud fit in easily, considerting that he is in the Roy Keane / Vieira mould and would provide United with the midfield stability we were lacking so often last year. He is also capable of scoring goals, with his wonder strike against Schalke in 2005 voted by UEFA as the best goal of the group stages. It goes without saying that United need a hard-tackling, combative midfielder in their ranks, and Appiah’s experience as captain should help him as well.
As for the second question I’m not really sure United have the balls to take a chance on Appiah instead of going after assured options such as Diarra (whom Ferguson has watched in action as well) and Carrick (proven in the Premiership). After several years of hit-and-miss transfers, United are being very cautious. A lot of this has to do with the Glazers as well, with United looking to spend the money on proven players.
A host of Europe’s top clubs (including United and Arsenal) are waiting for Juventus (and hopefully other clubs) to get relegated so that the firesale can begin. Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina are unlikely to be relegated, but if they are, expect Europe to go haywire.
The verdict is expected to be announced on Monday, July 10. After that, United head off to South Africa for a pre-season tour that sees them returning after 22nd July – leaving us less than 6 weeks to conduct transfers and 3 weeks before the Old Trafford opener against Seville on August 12.
Time’s running out, and United need to move now.