Last summer, we didn’t spend huge money on anyone, instead making three medium-sized transfers. The Premiership-proven Ashley Young suffered from faltering form, niggling injuries and uncertainty as to his place in the team, although it looks likely that he will play a key role in the coming season.
As the biggest Manchester United transfer story of the summer rumbles on, with Arsenal striker Robin van Persie edging ever closer to joining to my utter disbelief, the arrival of another young striker is slipping almost entirely under the radar. Chilean teenager Angelo Henriquez, a striker for Universidad de Chile, yesterday passed his medical ahead of completing his move, presumably today. The fee is £4m.
Transfer windows annoy the hell out of me. If it’s not agents, it’s players being dicks, and if it’s not that then it’s clubs behaving like entitled children. This time Arsenal have decided to raise their asking price for Robin van Persie to £25m, but only if he wishes to join Manchester United.
It’s only gone and fucking happened again, hasn’t it? Today quotes have hit the press, attributed to Lucas Moura, that Manchester is “boring” and that he will instead be signing for the nouveaux riche of the French league, PSG. We dilly dally in the transfer market and, boom, one of the clubs being bankrolled by a stupid Arab / Russian overlord comes in and signs our top target from under our noses.
There’s still plenty of time for it to fall through, for his agent to ask for more money, or for Sir Alex to reveal that it was all some kind of elaborate plan, but as the days go by it looks more and more like we’re actually going to be bringing this Lucas Moura guy to Old Trafford.
Unfortunately, with the Brazilian youngster coming in, it raises questions as to when one of our more inconsistent players will actually get a game. The same kind of questions that Dimitar Berbatov failed to answer once Danny Welbeck pushed his way into the first team reckoning, questions which have led to his career almost certainly continuing away from United.
Six Brazilian footballers have represented Manchester United since Kleberson, the first, signed for the club in the summer of 2003. They have met with varying levels of success, although not one has gone on to be a genuine, regular first teamer of influence.
If Lucas Moura joins (which is still a massive if) then he will have to buck the trend, both at the club and nationally, as very few Brazilians have succeeded in the Premier League. Indeed, only 7 Brazilians hold a winners medal (Anderson, Rafael and Fabio at United, Gilberto Silva and Edu at Arsenal, Beletti and Alex at Chelsea with an asterisk against the Brazilian born Portugal international Deco).
Whilst the twins are remarkably popular, neither are genuinely established, and the other Brazilians at United have often faded without a trace.
I feel stupid. The wool was completely pulled over my eyes, and I hate myself for it. I’m usually pretty cynical of the clubs owners and our activity in the transfer market, but even I discussed the possibilities of signing Lucas Moura and, less so, Robin van Persie as if they were actual real deals that had some hope of happening.
Unfortunately I fear that our withdrawal from the New York Stock Exchange will kill both birds with one stone. That is, if the birds even existed to begin with. I’m starting to believe that our posturing in the transfer market was simply to drum up interest in our doomed IPO, much as Sir Alex’s heartfelt praise of the Glazers the other day was to the same ends.
What’s going to happen now that the IPO has been withdrawn? I’ll tell you what. Neither transfer. Lucas plays in a position in which we are absolutely stacked as it is which, considering the deficiencies in the team elsewhere, simply cannot have escaped the attention of Ferguson. If we’ve got £35m to spend on a very attacking winger, shouldn’t we be investing in a truly top-class left-back and bolstering our centre midfield? If we can get RvP for £15 million, then great but however outrageous his talent we’re fine for strikers.
These moves only make sense if you consider them as headline grabbers, moves that were never genuinely expected to lead to a transfer. Instead, they were expected to whip up fervour, a blind show of faith from the usually faithful. From what I can see, they had the opposite effect. Too many summers of too little meant that everything we did was viewed with scepticism by any supporter with two brain cells to rub together. There was no hype around the IPO, just confusion as to what it was, exactly, that the Glazers were selling (the short summary is that buying these shares would get you absolutely nothing except the share, an intangible asset with no intrinsic value – no dividend, no votes, no seat on the board, nothing). Now that the IPO is dead, expect any ambitious transfer activity to follow.
Far more interesting and realistic is our interest in Cirigliano from River. Like Mascherano, but a better passer of the football, he would fit our evolving midfield perfectly, and slot into a position in which we are desperately short. He’s not the kind of signing that would drive up share prices though, is he?
The more I hear about this supposed deal that we’ve got in place for Lucas Moura, a 19 year old Brazilian winger that we don’t really need, the less I think it actually makes any sense from a footballing perspective. Financially, fine. He’s a young player who has bags of talent and will, more than likely, increase in value for the duration of his contract with us – that should tick all of the boxes for the Glazers. It’s in a sporting sense that this move doesn’t make any sense.
It’s also taking on more and more of the characteristics of our two big supposed transfer deals from last summer, Sneijder and Nasri. You’ve got supposed delegations flying to Brazil here and personal terms being agreed there with a player who’s currently focussed on one thing and one thing only; winning the Olympics with Brazil, a nation that takes that tournament very seriously.
What are we supposed to make of this summer? Frustrating years have gone by since we last truly flexed our financial muscle in the market and made a huge statement of intent. Granted, some of the ‘lesser’ signings that we have made have turned out to be absolutely fabulous bits of business (Nemanja Vidic and Tony Valencia stand out in this respect) but it’s been over ten years since we went out and signed Veron and Van Nistelrooy in the summer and Forlan the subsequent January.
Now, if reports are to be believed we’ve finally wrapped up a deal for Lucas Moura, a Brazilian kid who reminded me of a cross between David Bellion and Theo Walcott for the 20 minutes I watched him against Team GB. The fee being touted is £26m, which is more than we’ve spent on any one player since we dropped £33m on Berbatov from Spurs.