Date: 27th May 2011 at 11:00am
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Having employed a policy of buying youthful players and having them develop at Old Trafford, should the United boss stick to this somewhat successful transfer policy in a summer where integral purchases are necessary?

Come Sunday morning there will be new European club champions. Both Barcelona and Manchester United have reached the top spot of European competition three times, and are going for the fourth, however whatever the result, Ferguson’s team has been made the underdog for a reason. Despite finishing nine points clear at the top of the Premier League this season, compared to Barcelona’s four in La Liga, and reaching the Champions League final an impressive three times in four years, United are still considered a weaker side than Barca at present.

It can be easily argued that this claim is wholly justified too. With Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi the three nominees for the 2010 Ballon D’Or, as well as Barcelona’s recent dominance of  club competition in Spain and the fact that nearly the entire first team, apart from Messi, Daniel Alves and possibly Mascherano, won the World Cup last summer it’s not difficult to see why.

If United are to continue their success, both at home and in Europe, and to send shivers down the spines of opposition managers, just as Barcelona do in current world football, then strengthening the squad this summer is a necessity. However one factor Ferguson should consider is whether to buy less experienced but promising youngsters, who can retain or even grow in value, as he has done in the past, or adopt a safer policy of attempting to acquire assured and proven quality.

The most immediate appointment has to be the new No. 1 at Old Trafford as replacement for the retiring forty year old , who will hang up his gloves after the Champions League final on Saturday. Van Der Sar was one of Ferguson’s older purchases, arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2005 for a reported mere £2 million. Having won seven trophies with United, another possible on Saturday, three Best European Goalkeeper awards and UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009, it will be a huge ask for whoever does attempt to fill the Dutch mans’ shoes.

One man touted as the main United target to succeed Van Der Sar is Athletico Madrid’s . If speculation is accurate then the deal to take De Gea to Old Trafford will cost the Manchester club a reported £17 million and with Ferguson confirming that the transfer will go through in the coming weeks, it seems the Scot is sticking to his policy of buying young. Nevertheless, is this the correct direction to take in this instance?

De Gea is certainly a goal keeper with real pedigree. He starred in Spain’s Under 17 European Championship winning and Under 17 World Cup runners up teams, and since breaking into the Athletico first team the club has won both the Europa League and Super Cup. He also possess a frame  and qualities similar to that of Van Der Sar. Even with this impressive youth record, and obvious potential, is it not a risk to purchase a goal keeper of this age and experience as a replacement at one of the world’s biggest clubs?

At £17 million De Gea will be the second most expensive goalkeeper in world football if he does leave Athletico for this reported fee. Surely it would be safer for the Manchester outfit to go for someone with at least a bit more experience. Stekelenburg, Van Der Sar’s own recommendation, or even Buffon, the most expensive goalkeeper of all time, have many years of experience under their belts as well as the skills needed to become successful replacements at Old Trafford.

Ferguson has a knack of buying and developing youngsters into world class players who can perform on the biggest stage. One recent example of this was the signing of a relatively unknown Javier Hernandez before last summers Wold Cup finals. The player impressed during the tournament and went on to score twenty goals in all competitions for the club, possibly more if he nets in the Champions League final, where he will probably start.

With around £113 million available, according to Manchester United’s most recent accounts, which could rise even higher when season ticket revenue is added before next season commences, it’s not as if Ferguson doesn’t have the funds readily available. The Glazers have allegedly given the United boss the go ahead to spend substantially this summer in order to attract the big names and bolster the current squad. With big names linked to United in previous weeks nobody can be sure who will be arriving during the summer.

The club tends to keep quiet during the negotiation stages of deals in order to reduce interest from others however with players such as David De Gea, Gareth Bale, Javier Pastore, Ashley Young, Raphael Varene and Alexis Sanchez speculated to be on the Manchester clubs radar it seems that Ferguson will be sticking with youth for the time being.