Mancheser United’s lack of activity in the transfer market (in comparison, only 4 other Premiership clubs have yet to sign a player) has disturbed many supporters. The promise of ‘completing the transfers before the World Cup starts‘ was wasted, but now that the big event is nearly over and the focus is back on Manchester United, let’s see who we are really targeting.
Owen Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) – After the World Cup everyone in England has been singing praises for Hargreaves. Add to that his statements in which he’s basically issued a ‘come-get-me’ statement to the top four Premiership clubs by saying that he would love to play in England but only for a club that is capable of competing in the league and in Europe at a comparable level to Bayern.
Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all for some reason or the other may not have Hargreaves in their plans. Ferguson have found a decent answer to his midfield woes, and of the rest of the midfielders in this list Hargreaves looks like Manchester United’s best bet.
If United don’t sell anyone and only sign Hargreaves, you’d imagine that the United faithful would be very happy. Ok, so maybe we can Fletcher…
Mahamadou Diarra (Lyon) – United’s pursuit of Diarra ended after the French league played it’s last game and Ferguson went to watch the player. United were reported to be very interested and looking to buy the player but Lyon don’t need to sell (they have been winning the Ligue 1 title for so long that they make Chelsea look unassured) and although Diarra would want the fame and glamour associated with a big move, Lyon will only sell for 25 million. Madrid looks a likely option for this midfielder, as United would not want to spend that much money on just one player.
Michael Carrick (Tottenham) – A quality player who wasn’t given enough chances in the World Cup. Carrick was the player Manchester United went after when Diarra proved to be too expensive, but Tottenham are asking for 20 million – double the amount United offered initially. Rumours are that United’s 15 million bid might be accepted, but if push comes to shove United will wait till the end of the summer transfer season before moving for Carrick.
Stephen Appiah (Fenerbahce) – A strong possibility that people have generally ignored. Appiah could be the cheap version of Diarra and based on his performances in the World Cup (and his limited Champions League experience) he is the young Roy Keane Ferguson has been looking for. And he comes for less than 10 million pounds.
And you can see his goal for Fenerbahce (vs Schalke in the Champions League in 2005) here.
Juan Riquelme (Villareal) – Riquelme is an amazing player, but is he really what United need? Villareal will not sell him for less than 15 million, and you have to wonder whether United have that sort of money. We were rumoured to have 20-25 million to spend this summer but with the guarantee of a strong showing in the Champions League as well as at least second spot in the Premiership next year. Will splashing 15-20 million on Riquelme help us acheive that?
Manchester United haven’t bid for him yet, but merely inquired about his asking price. It goes without saying that we could use a playmaker like Riquelme but this would be a risky bet as while Riquelme fits snugly into the Villareal and Argentina style of playing, it is totally a different question if he will be able to settle in the Premiership and in Manchester United.
Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid) – Fergie’s latest comments have indicated that he is ready to make peace with Ruud van Nistelrooy, and that even Ronaldo will be welcomed back and the team will be gelled together all over again. If that happens, United don’t need to buy a 22-million plus striker, who in reality is not much better than Saha.
Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan) – Italy and Milan’s best holding midfielder is perhaps one of United fans most favoured targets. Anyone who has seen him play can attest to his energy levels and commitment. He is rumoured to want to play in the Premiership and if Milan are relegated as part of the match-fixing tribunal, he will be one of Europe’s prime targets.
If Ferguson wants to get Gattuso, he has to move for him now, before any other club (such as Madrid or Arsenal) get a shoe in. He would be one of the best buys United have ever made (right up there with Rooney, Stam, Nistelrooy and Keano), and will fit easily into the Premiership.
We need a defender as well, but I think United will start playing O’Shea more at right-back to cover for Neville, especially if we’re able to buy two midfielders. United don’t need to overhaul – they need to tinker and bring back their confidence of playing at the top level in Europe. If they can do that next season with the addition of one or two players, that’s all we really need.