In the pub with your United mates, you’ll discuss the players you think need to be moved on and the players you think will be brought in. You can quite easily come up with a handful of names for each, but it very rarely happens. Until, it seems, this year….
With Gary Neville, Edwin van der Sar and Paul Scholes retiring and Owen Hargreaves not having his contract renewed we are four big names down straight away. Add to that the three seemingly certs to leave- John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Darron Gibson- as well as the loan departures of Ritchie de Laet and Bebe. If any of the other transfer rumours come to fruition (Evans, Nani, Berbatov) then it’s conceivable that a full XI could be on their way out of Old Trafford over the summer.
So who to bring in?
The two done deals are of course Phil Jones and Ashley Young, with David de Gea looking very likely to be added to that list within the next couple of days. All three are very promising signings but apart from de Gea replacing Van der Sar, will either of the other two expect much first team football next season? It will be interesting to see the roles Fergie has planned for them both- Jones will do well to replace Ferdinand/Vidic/Smalling, but maybe Fergie doesn’t see him playing there just yet. Young offers cover to either wing or the forward positions, but has very strong players already higher up in the pecking order. It does show long term thinking, Jones is widely regarded as the most promising English centre half of his generation and Young will be available to give Giggs’ ageing legs a rest. It shows Fergies belief that a strong squad is required to be able to win the Premier League.
Come the start of the season we may or may not have the strongest looking team on paper, but the signings show that come the busy parts of the season, we will have the squad available to rotate and keep players fresh without damaging the standard of the team. One other thought on the signings is whether Fergie is concerned about the introduction of a rule stating how many ‘home grown’ players are required to be in the starting line-up. Buying young English talent now could be preferable to waiting until such a rule is brought in and seeing the premium prices for English players rise even higher.
Despite over £50m being spent on these players we are still being linked with a ‘marquee signing’. If reports are to be believed then it sounds like that player is Luka Modric, but whether that’s the case, only Fergie knows. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a different target currently not picked up by the media, the less people know about it the lower the price seems to stay (see Chicharito for a prime example). A box to box central midfielder would be my ideal signing, someone in the mould of Roy Keane, or (dare I say it) Paul Ince.
Despite all the potential comings and goings it’ll be nice when the squad is settled and the season has kicked off. Transfer speculation is all well and good, but it’s much better when it’s diluted with the proper football action!
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