Up until now, all of the posts written on the blog has been about Manchester United. Our present, our past and the future. This one is going to be a bit different, and a more general post. I wanted to write about the big transfers that are going to happen in the summer, much like the Hazard and Kagawa deals in 2012. I wanted to take a look at which players that are looking likely to move on, and why. This is relevant for us in the sense that if we and/or our rivals buy new players, we will be affected by the summer signings. Seeing as there is probably at least 25 signings that can make a huge impact in the summer, I thought I’d narrow it down to ten. I’ll do at least 3 from the Premier League and then a couple other players from different leagues. The idea is, as mentioned, to take a look at the transfers that I think has the potential to really put their mark on the standings in the league. I find this interesting because it effects us in an indirect way if an opponent gets the player, and directly if we do. Here goes.
Gareth Bale, Tottenham
The twenty-three year old welshman and former Southampton left-back and freekick specialist turned into a free role on the left attacking side for Tottenham in the 2011/2012 season by Harry Redknapp. Having struggled to impress much as a LB, going something like 25 games without winning with Bale in the side, the refreshing experience with a fast, technical winger that could shoot hard as a bull kicks, and that already had the crossing part down from being an offensive left back, Villas-Boas has given him an even more offensive role and he is now the focal point of the Tottenham attack. After the sale of Van Der Vaart, and lacking quality strikers, Bale has really stepped his game up and taken responsibility for the goal scoring part for Spurs. Having an amazing season so far, scoring 19 goals and having 4 assists in thirty games, while Spurs is fighting for the champions league spot, he might be off in the summer if they don’t make it. Being a rare player, as a some kind of a mix between the old, classic winger and the more modern type that can both shoot, cross and beat players, he is probably wanted by the whole footballing world. The price? It is going to depend a lot on whether Tottenham qualifies for the champions league or not, but you would probably have to blow the 40-number if not more. If we were to get him, we would be set in the LM/LAM/LF/LW role for ten years, and how suitable wouldn’t a young welsh winger be whenever Giggs retires?
Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina
Is also 23, and has been rumored to join both Arsenal, Chelsea as well as the big Spanish clubs for a while now. A tall, quick striker which reminds me a bit about Valeri Bojinov before Bojinov got injured and ended up as a player desperate to get his career back on track. The similarity lays in the way the players both move, having a great touch on the ball and an eye for smart passes and a good timing for when to play it simple and when to go crazy with some trickery is something most top clubs would love. Seeing as the financial situation in Italy is rather shitty these days, a good offer would probably force the i Violas to sell. He has not impressed too much with his goal scoring statistics yet, but it is decent. 35 in 111 for Fiorentina playing behind a striker is not bad at all for a 23 year old. Very unlikely signing for Man United seeing as we are already stacked up front, but can make a big impact if he is to come into Arsenal or another premier league team. He is a fun player to watch, and we always welcome artistic, elegant players to the league, right?
The Danish 21-year old has been a hot transfer target for two or three seasons already, but has stayed put in Amsterdam where playing time and development has been ensured. He seems like a very down to earth guy, and has been getting praise left and right from media all over the world, as well as the managers he has had for Denmark and Ajax. The article linked is a couple years old, but if you take a look at who he was praised by, Martin Jol, Morten Olsen and Frank De Boer, it is pretty clear that people who know what they are talking about have great expectations for Christian. Interest from both AC Milan, Barcelona and Man City has been expressed throughout the season, and the Dane has already said no to Liverpool and City. He likes the way Barcelona plays and is likely going there.
As for how he plays, he is a very classical number 10, that is brilliant in the space between midfield and attack. Giving Eriksen space is scary, because goals come of that. With 9 goals and 15 assists in 31 games for Ajax this season, he is their key player at the age of 21, which is very impressive. He could be a great signing for Man United, even though many people say we don’t need him. I am thinking that Anderson might be off, and the rumors of Nani leaving us as well would make space for Christian. He is very similar to Andrea Pirlo in his early days, where he was a more attacking midfielder, not very tall, but very technically gifted. Killer free-kicks, and amazing in tight spaces, he could do the defensive Pirlo role as a long term replacement for Carrick (provided we get a beefy midfielder alongside him) or play in an attacking trio up front if we opt to go for the 4-2-3-1 formation. Having turned down a contract extension at Ajax makes his price drop a bit, and he should be very affordable unless it becomes a bidding war with one of the oil-clubs like City or PSG. I am not sure whether we NEED him or not, but I am pretty sure we will be in the picture when Eriksen decides where he wants to go.
Sofiane Feghouli, Valencia
I thought I’d bring an (in my opinion) underrated player to the list as well.
The french-algerian is 23 and an attacking midfielder for Valencia. Having impressed with his offensive play in the champions league this season (scoring 3 in 8 apps), his hard work and good vision for offensive plays, he should be a hot prospect for the summer. His key strengths are his pace on the ball, his ability to set up goals for the team and the flair he brings to the attack. His season reminds me much like the season David Silva had for Valencia in 2008/2009, where he looked very promising and was always an attacking threat.
Playing for a “selling club” such as Valencia, he should be affordable for many teams. He looks like a classic Tottenham signing (buy a player for a decent price, sell him for quite a bit more in a season or two). We could be interested as we were last summer when he was linked to us.
Christian Benteke, Aston Villa
The Belgium international has followed in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Vermaelen, Verthongen, Hazard, Dembele, Fellaini, Kompany and Lukaku this season. He had somewhat of a slow start, but has been absolutely deadly in front of goal since January. Currently Behind Bale, Suarez and Van Persie on the top scorer table in the league with his 18 goals in 32 games for Aston Villa. The congolese-belgian power striker has impressed me and many others with his ability to create chances with his physical presence and good finishing ability since the 8 mill transfer from Genk in the summer. Darren Bent is benched, and Benteke has almost single handedly kept a weak Aston Villa from relegation this season. The newspapers talk about a tripled value (25 mill) in less than a year in the Premier League, and he seems like the perfect solution to Tottenhams striker problems. My personal opinion is that he should’ve been very close to winning the young player of the year award this season, as Bale won the player of the season one, but that didn’t happen.
He might not be a transfer we need in Man United, but he will surely make an impact if he ends up going to the Spurs. It is going to be exciting following Christian next season to see if he can keep up the good statistics, or if this season was just a wonder-season for him. Either way, it is going to be pretty much impossible for Aston Villa to keep him the way he has played.
Luke Shaw, Southampton
The 17 (!!!) year old left-back has been praised as the long-term replacement for Ashley Cole for the English international team after having a fantastic debut season for Southampton in the premier league. “The new Gareth Bale, the new Ashley Cole – he can go either way. He is very technically gifted” are the words of a friend of mine who is a huge Southampton supporter. I personally see him as a very modern sideback, and he is both tall, has great technique and is extremely quick. The age might be in Southamptons’ favor in terms of keeping the player for a few more seasons, but many clubs should (including Man United) be drooling over this player already. Getting your hands on a left-back like Shaw would solve the LB position for fifteen years if his development continues. I am not so sure he is going to be sold in the summer, having several years left on his contract with Southampton. However, he has been a huge surprise and a very exciting player to follow in the premier league this season. A transfer might happen, and I thought he was worth having on the list.
Julian Draxler, Schalke 04
A German 19-year old wonderkid has been mentioned earlier on this blog, and here he is again. Draxler is a tall, attacking midfielder with flair, great passing ability, a great dribbling repertoire and a very vicious strike on the ball. One of the most controversial transfers we are going to see this summer is the replacement for Götze in Dortmund, and both Draxler and Kevin De Bruyne has been mentioned as potential players to take over. I personally think both of them would be way too expencive, and it would be a very inconsistent thing of Dortmund to do, to suddenly go form barely spending cash on players to pay up 20-25 mill for a replacement. I have earlier expressed my optimism about Draxler coming to Man United, but the fact is that Bundesliga clubs have money, they have sold out stadiums every day and german players tend to like it in their home country. I am not sure if we’ll see Julian leave this summer, but if he does, I am almost certain Man United will join in with an offer. As mentioned earlier, Nani is rumored out, and Draxler can play as both a classic winger, a modern attacking midfielder in the 4-2-3-1 or as the player behind the striker. We could possibly see Draxler go to another top club for a decent amount of money, considering his talents. If he wants to follow in the footsteps of similar and ex-Schalke player Mesut Özil, he’ll probably stay another season to dominate in the Bundesliga before leaving.
Nemanja Matic, Benfica
Nemanja is the oldest player on this list. The 24-year old Serbian midfield warrior is a tall (6’4 / 1.94 m) defensive midfielder with the ability to dominate both in the air and on the ground. Being part of the deal when Chelsea bought David Luiz from Benfica, he only got two games for Chelsea, but after the transfer to Benfica, he has claimed the CDM spot at the club after they sold off Javi Garcia to Man City.
Impressive performances against Barcelona in the group stages of the champions league tournament, as well as being good in games against Porto and Sporting in the league, has shown european top clubs that he has what it takes to make it in a bigger league. He should be eager to get back to England and prove his worth, and could be part of the plans when Ferguson starts acquiring new players during the summer. Being a serbian international, namesake Vidic should have plenty of knowledge about his attitude and ability. Having two serbian players should mean more blood and more broken teeth at Manchester United, which us fans have always appreciated.
Kevin Strootman, PSV
Dutch international Strootman has been named as one of the signings Man United are likely to do when the summer transfer window opens up again. Ex-Man United legendary goalkeeper Van Der Sar backed Strootman to follow the proud history of Dutch players in Manchester United about a month ago, and many fans (including myself) were happy to see Edwin backing up a player that we all would like in our club. Kevin has climbed the stages from the Dutch U-18s and Sparta Rotterdam up until being a regular for the international team while playing for his current club, PSV.
Being a tall and physical player, with great vision and an impressive passing range as his main attributes, he is suited to play either in a trio in the midfield, or as part of a two-man midfield as a box-to-box player. PSVs’ purchase of swedish Oscar Hiljemark earlier this season makes way for Strootman to leave. I, alongside a lot of other Unitedfans, expect us to sign a midfielder this summer. Strootman seems quite likely to join, and I do not think he is going to disappoint us.
Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund
You know who this is. You know what he is good at, and that he is looking like a complete forward in many ways. Being rumored out Dortmund in the summer, Lewandowski is probably wanted by every single one of the top 10-15 clubs in the world, and is very likely to join one of them. Do we need him at United? Not really. Do we want him? Eff yeah! Ferguson answered the question “I always have room for world class players”. He looks likely to go Real Madrid or Chelsea, who both are having somewhat of a striker crysis. Higuain and Benzema has been crappy all season, and Torres hasn’t been convincing in three or four seasons. Ba is very good, but nowhere near the Lewandowski standard.
The effect of buying Lewandowski is going to be huge for any team able to acquire him. Kind of like the effect the Götze transfer is going to have on Bayern. Players want to play with the best possible team around them, and with Guardiola and Götze coming in, more top class players are likely to prefer Bayern over other top clubs when given the option. As for what would happen if we bought Lewandowski, I think we’d either see Rooney in a midfield trio, and the team playing a 4-2-2-2, with Lewandowski and RvP up front, Rooney and Kagawa behind, with Carrick and Cleverley as the final 2 before the defense. As much as I’d like the transfer, I personally would prefer a midfielder and/or a winger. It is going to be exciting to see where he ends up. If he goes to Chelsea, with Mourinho coming in, they are going to be our main challangers for the title next season.
1. Which transfers are you the most excited about in the summer?
2. Any predictions on where the ten players might end up? Or will they stay at their current club?
3. If you had to pick one or two players from this list to join United in the summer, who would you pick and why?
End note: I know there are still lots of players that I havent mentioned. Is Neymar making the move in the summer? Ganso? Alex Sandro? Is Tom Ince going back to Liverpool? Gundogan to Real Madrid? So many to choose from. I just picked the ones I find to be the most interesting ones.
I’d like to know if you guys like these kinds of long, speculative posts or if you prefer the light reads that we sometimes post. It takes way too much time to write this, so putting the effort in if there isn’t a demand would be silly! Tell us what you want from the blog.