May 28th 2011 – the day the European football season finished. Alongside the MUFC careers of Edwin van der Sar, Owen Hargreaves, and the legend that is Paul Scholes.
May 29th 2011 – the day the new United revolution began.
As the rumour mill continues to swirl remarkable tales of ins and outs, there are a few deals that do seem to be doing the rounds, and have some element of truth within them.
First up, the ‘Is it? Isn’t it?’ deal for David de Gea, the 20 year-old Atletico Madrid keeper, currently impressing for the Sapin U21 team in Denmark. Fergie said a deal was close, then de Gea said it wasn’t. Then, earlier this afternoon, reports surfaced that he wants to ‘follow in the footsteps of Edwin van der Sar’, insinuating a move to United seemed to be imminent. He’ll cost somewhere in the region of £17.5m, with many United blogs and forums stating the deal will be done come July 1st. That’s one position out the way.
Next came the tussle for Phil Jones. We all know Fergie has been an admirer of Jones all season, having sent scouts to watch him. What we didn’t expect was for us to trump Liverpool with a big £16.5m+ bid to gain the young centre back. The contracts are yet to be signed, but the five-year deal will be made official when he returns from England U21 duty. Reportedly, Jones spoke with Arsene Wenger the day before the deal, and had the opportunity to talk to Liverpool, but didn’t want to know, and only had eyes for Old Trafford. Stage two of the revolution complete.
What about the Ashley Young debacle? This deal was touted in early April as the one to watch, but most United fans just deemed it pure speculation. Until Fergie acted. Now, nothing is official, and we’re basing it on sources and reports we’ve all seen in the media, but apparently Young is very close to completing a £16.5m deal to United, having agreed personal terms and undertaken a ‘brief medical’. The player cancelled his wedding and went on holiday to have a think, having met Aston Villa chairman Randy Lerner, and many expected that to be that, and the formalities to be wrapped up once he returned. But is it that simple?
Well, apparently not. Big rumours and reports emerged this morning that United have lodged a big, £27m bid for Udinese’s Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez, and we were close to snatching the player from under the noses of Chelsea, Man City, and Barcelona. Again, the player is reported to ‘only have eyes for United’, but is this all speculation? And why would Fergie want another winger? There are only three possibilities. Either the Young deal has stalled, Nani is leaving the club, or he plans to play Young in centre midfield, with Sanchez on the wing.
It all seems a little crazy to me – Sanchez would be a wonderful signing, but only if we don’t sign Young. What it looks like to me is Fergie is building a team of world-class stars, proving United still have a big power within the transfer market, and by taking players from under the noses of arch-rivals Liverpool and Man City, we’re proving we are still the place to be in English football.
That may not be the case for Wesley Sneijder, though. Sneijder has long been admired by Fergie, and world football for that matter. We were reported to be close to signing him in the summer of 2010, after a sterling performance for Holland in the World Cup. However, those plans didn’t come to fruition, yet throughout this season, the talk of Sneijder in a red shirt come the 2011/12 season continued to build and build. All seemed lost when the Dutchman pledged his allegiance to Internazionale, but since, both club and player have admitted a deal may be on the cards. Sneijder would cost upwards of £30m, but may involve Inter target Nani in a player plus cash deal to persuade the club to allow Sneijder to join the fifth Fergie generation. However, wages of £200,000 AFTER tax may prove a massive stumbling block.
If Inter don’t give in, though, attention may turn to Luka Modric, the Tottenham playmaker. United have a history of big deals involving Tottenham in recent seasons, with both Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov making the 165-mile journey north. Modric could be another, having admitted yesterday his future is yet to be resolved. However, manager Harry Redknapp does not wish to sell any ‘star players’, and so will charge through the roof for the 25 year-old Croat. Any deal will start at around £20m, and could involve players going in the opposite direction to compensate.
The final piece of the puzzle may fall at the feet of Pato Rodriguez, the unknown Argentine from Independiente. Little is known of the player who scored three goals in 27 appearances last season, yet a €10m fee may lead to the left-sided midfielder join the club. Many say he is the future Ryan Giggs, due to his skill and first touch, but another winger in not yet needed. He may join on a pre-contract agreement, if rumours are to be believed, before joining the club officially on 1st July.
If all deals are concluded, then United will have spent upwards of £135m this summer – a majority share of the £180m cash United have stockpiled, according to football finance expert and United fan Andy Green. So how will we manage to recuperate some of this cash? We’ll have to sell the deadwood.
Already, it sounds like Darron Gibson is off to Sunderland for £5m, and could be joined by Jonny Evans and John O’Shea, for a combined total of £10m. Wesley Brown may call time on a 25-year associated with Man United and join Phil Neville at Everton for somewhere in the region of £4m. Nani is the subject of interest from Italy, with rumours suggesting a £27m deal to Inter or Juventus is likely. Tomasz Kuszczak will be shown the door for a minimal fee, and Dimitar Berbatov may have to leave the club in order to fund these deals, with a £10m+ deal back to Germany looking quite likely, now Miroslav Klose has left Bayern Munich.
All in all, it looks to be a very busy transfer market, and the first time a re-modelling of the team on this scale has taken place since the summer of 1995. It clearly shows the competition Fergie feels has appeared from Chelsea and Man City for European titles, never mind English titles, is severe, and he wants to counter it with a mixture of youth and experience to create a European torrent that will win domestic and European trophies for years to come.
First though, is the small matter of putting Barcelona to rights…