When I wrote last month that Manchester United should consider Owen Hargreaves as a holding midfielder, it was more as a cheap alternative to the over-priced Diarras, Mascheranos, Cambiassos and Carricks we were being linked with.
Now, I’m positive that Manchester United should make a move for Hargreaves.
Manchester United’s search for midfielders has led them to bidding $15 million pounds for Michael Carrick – at least $5 million too high, and then Carrick is not your traditional ball-winner. His strengths lie in his passing ability, and while United need such a player they need a direct replacement for Keano first.
Of all the players linked to United (and I’m talking ball-winners, not creative midfielders like Riquelme and Ribery), Hargreaves is the one who has the most chance of coming to Old Trafford. He’s part of the England setup, he’s stated his desire to play in the Premiership “if the offer and terms were right” (which has always meant that he wanted to play in the top 4 clubs with a guarantee of being in the first team) and the climate will suit him as well.
Owen Hargreaves to Manchester United?
While I’d love to see a player like Mascherano in United colors, the chances of the Corinthians letting him go (and of United paying such a high price for him) are remote. South American players traditionally prefer the Italian and Spanish leagues (a pity really), with the climate and language being important considerations.
Cambiasso and Gattuso are also talked about as potential replacements, but they are bound to be more expensive and less inclined to play in the Premiership. Gattuso in particular would be an excellent buy but I doubt that he would come to United willingly (and if Milan were to sell him Madrid and Barca would bid $20 mil for him without a second thought). Then we have Diarra, who has enjoyed a couple of excellent seasons for Lyon. Diarra is over-priced. Ok, let me rephrase that – Diarra is an excellent midfielder for whom Lyon is holding out for the maximum amount of money possible. That means a bidding war with Madrid, and United would not want to get into that.
I also talked about Stephen Appiah (Micheal Essien’s Ghanian teammate and captain) as a possible replacement, but Ferguson is looking for a player who is proven at the top level in Europe and Appiah does not fit that requirement.
All roads point to Owen Hargreaves. It’s not that we should rate him on just one excellent performance – but on his experience, his time playing for Bayern Munich and in the Champions League, and the speed with which he adapted to his role in the England lineup, especially after being entrusted with a starting berth. The fact that he was getting forward ahead of Gerrard and Joe Cole was a telling reminder of his commitment and effort.
What’s more, the hard-tackling midfielder could solve United’s biggest problem…
The bottom line is, will Ferguson see the light and bid for the Bayern Munich midfielder? The pre-season starts today and Ferguson’s return to Old Trafford will mark a renewal of United’s efforts to sign at least two midfielders (Hargreaves and Carrick?), a possible replacement for RVN (if he’s sold – a swap for Hargreaves maybe?), and with Ronaldo admitting the links to Real Madrid, a winger as well (Simao has been linked – and he would be a great addition as well).
My vote’s for Hargreaves. What about you?