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Archive for the ‘Transfer Gossip’ Category

Sir Alex should go Dutch in January

Posted by hakanrylander on January 1, 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson claims that there is no need for a panic-signing in January. He is just stating the obvious. Is there ever a need for a panic-signing? There is, however, a need for a sound long-term signing that will also alleviate our short-term problems. A top international player, not too expensive and available in January. This might sound a tall order, but I think such a solution exists.

The key is to look away from central midfield. I would love a world-class midfielder like Modric, Schweinsteiger or Sneijder, but such a player is unlikely to be available in January. Instead we should keep Phil Jones in midfield. With Carrick in great form and Anderson and Cleverly returning to fitness we should be sorted until the summer.

With Vidic out for the season and Rio playing every other match at the most, we need to give Chris Smalling a run in central defence. But using Smalling and Jones in central areas will leave us short of cover at right back, particularly as the twins are very injury prone. Thus we need to bring in a top right back. My suggestion is Gregory van der Wiel of Ajax who is also the established firtst choice for Holland, the third best national side in Europe. Ajax recently turned down an offer from Valencia believed to be £8m, but an offfer of, say, £15m would almost certainly be accepted. Van der Wiel’s attacking style would fit perfectly at Old Trafford.


Posted in Manchester United, Player Analysis, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Add to Basket

Posted by hakanrylander on February 10, 2011

I knew that Christian Eriksen was a good player. But I didn’t realise that he was this good! Last night’s game between Denmark and England made me add another name to my Official Summer Shopping List. He impressed me in just about every department; control, composure, vision, set-piece delivery etc. In short, he was the best player on the pitch. And he doesn’t turn 19 until Monday.

Apart from Eriksen, my shopping list for the summer also includes Manuel Neuer and Jack Rodwell. All perfectly possible signings if the Glazers are indeed prepared to splash the cash. But come to think of it, I can’t remember that I’ve ever seen “Glazer” and “splash the cash” in the same sentence before…

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The five reasons why Rooney wants to leave

Posted by hakanrylander on October 21, 2010

Money. When a professional footballer wants to change clubs he normally claims that this is to “fulfil a dream”, “take the next step”, “get a new challenge” etc. In reality, money is always part of the motivation. More often than not it’s the main reason why a player wants a move. I don’t think Rooney is any different in this respect. As he’s one of the best players in the world, it’s not difficult to imagine that he gets frustrated when across town Yaya Touré earns twice as much.

Form. In the previous paragraph I refered to Rooney as one of the best players in the world. But in fact he hasn’t played anywhere near that level for the last six months, neither for United nor England. On form he deserves to be on the bench as both Berbatov and Hernandez have looked better players recently. As what was supposedly a temporary glitch has turned into the longest slump of his career, many of us have become increasingly worried. None more so than Rooney himself. Since the World Cup it’s likely that he’s given some serious thought to which way his professional career is heading. One conclusion might have been that a change of clubs could help him find his feet again.

The Glazers. The owners of the top clubs in Europe tend to put an awful lot of money into the club, or at least not take anything out. The Glazers on the other hand take countless millions out of the club. This has now made it obvious that United find it very hard to compete for the best players. It’s no wonder that Rooney does not believe that United is a club in ascendency. Does anyone?

His private life. Very difficult to know how important this aspect is. It has probably helped destabilize Rooney, but I still think it’s only a minor factor behind his transfer request.

Paul Stretford. Rooney’s agent orchestrated a very similar move in 2004. Read this highly interesting article by David Conn. I think Stretford is at it again.

Posted in Manchester United, Player Analysis, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Posted by hakanrylander on September 23, 2010

It’s tempting to try to read between the lines of Sir Alex Ferguson’s absence from last night’s Carling Cup game against Scunthorpe. On surface it’s unremarkable that Ferguson chose to travel to Valencia to watch our next CL opponents, and leave Mike Phelan in charge for the Scunthorpe game. But this is in fact unprecedented as it was the first match during nearly 24 years as United manager that he has missed for other than family reasons.

The logical conclusion is that this was not simply a trip to scout our next opponents. At the top of Ferguson’s plans for next summer must be to find a successor to Edwin van der Sar. As Valencia were playing Atletico Madrid it’s most likely that Sir Alex saw the opportunity to take a closer look at David De Gea, and that the young Spanisk keeper now probably heads Ferguson’s shopping list. De Gea would be an excellent signing, but I find it unlikely that he will leave Spain, even though the fact that he plays for Atletico might make a move to local rivals Real Madrid unlikely.

Posted in Manchester United, Player Analysis, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Unofficial Summer Shopping List

Posted by hakanrylander on May 19, 2010

You don’t need to be an expert in neither football nor finance to read between the lines this morning. In “unrelated”(!?) developments the Glazers face an interest rate hike on the already costly PIK-loans, while Sir Alex claims that he’s happy with the balance of the squad and that there may be only one signing this summer. The rate hike increases the pressure on the Glazers to take even more money out of United to pay off the loans. This in turn means that the transfer budget for this summer will be even tighter than most of us anticipated. I expected Ferguson to make two important signings, but my summer shopping list has now been revised to include just one name.

Goalkeeper. There’s no question that we soon need a long-term replacement for Edwin van der Sar, but this won’t happen this summer and I think we’re allright for next season with VDS, Kuszczak and Amos. My only concern is that my prefered choice to replace VDS, Manuel Neuer, will move to Bayern Munich if we don’t snap him up this summer.

Defence. No desperate need for new signings even if I would love a world-class right-back (Lahm, Maicon) and some doubts remain about the fitness of Ferdinand and Vidic’s (wife’s) attitude to life in Manchester.

Midfield. Scholes and Giggs surely enter their last season and there are plenty of questionmarks over Hargreaves, Anderson and Carrick. This means that if money was available we should go for Jack Rodwell. I believe he will be a key player for England in the next decade. A perfect long-term signing, but if the owners only allow one new player it will have to be someone who will offer more immediate support for Rooney.

Attack. Ideally, the player we look for should be able to play alongside Rooney, just behind him as well as wide. And also be able to play up front when Rooney is missing. He also needs to be both goalscorer and playmaker, and be good enough to really make a difference, in short world-class. This, of course, limits the choice somewhat and takes us into a price-bracket where the Glazers might not be at all comfortable. I believe that the player who best fits this description, and might be available, is Sergio Aguero of Atletico Madrid. You have an opportunity to scout him in the Spanish Cup Final tonight.

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The Ljajic Deal: Penny Pinching or Smart Allocation of Resources?

Posted by hakanrylander on December 3, 2009

United today backed out of the agreement to sign 18-year-old Serbia Under-21 international Adem Ljajic, otherwise known as “Little Kaka”. The official explanation is that “having closely monitored his development over the past 12 months” the club has chosen not to pursue the transfer.

I have no first hand opinion on Ljajic’s development over the past 12 months and would welcome any input from Serbian readers. But the collapsed deal of course raises questions whether the Glazers have told Ferguson that there is little or no money to spend, and if this in turn indicates that the club and its owners are heading towards a financial crisis.

I do, however, believe that the main reason for opting out of the deal is that Ferguson has other major plans in the transfer market. Over the last few months it might have dawned on him that the he needs to sign a world-class goalscorer (Dzeko?) a goalkeeper (Neuer?) and, considering the different kind of question marks over Ferdinand and Vidic, a central defender (Rodwell?). This would add up to a very substantial outlay. In parallell the development of some of the youngsters already at the club might have made it seem less urgent to bring in another promising teenager (apart from Rodwell, that is…).

The Glazers, by all accounts, can pinch pennies with the best of them, but I don´t believe the Ljajic deal is an example of this. I think it looks more like a smart allocation of resources, having identified more pressing needs.

I hope Ljajic has a successful career ahead of him. But I will probably be disappointed if he does indeed become the next Kaka.

Posted in Financial, Manchester United, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Quote of the Day

Posted by hakanrylander on November 23, 2009

“It was easy, though, to see why United are being prominently linked with Jack Rodwell, who played with a maturity beyond his 18 years. The teenager is two-footed, tall, plays with his head up and always wants the ball. He looks like a United player in the making.”

Daniel Taylor, Guardian.

Posted in Player Analysis, Transfer Gossip | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

Today the Floodgates Opened

Posted by hakanrylander on November 15, 2009

With 47 days to go until the opening of the January transfer window speculation about possible deals has slowly been rising in recent weeks, but today I felt the floodgates of rumours were finally fully opened. If every tabloid and their dogs (below) are to be believed, we will sign the following players in January: Carlton Cole, Jack Rodwell, Philipp Lahm, Edin Dzeko, Connor Wickham, Romelu Lukaku, Marouane Chamakh, Franck Ribery, Yaya Toure, Simon Kjaer and probably a few others as well. Or if we don’t actually sign them we will at the very least “closely monitor the situation”.

Transfer rumours normally stem from two main sources. Either an agent who wants to create the impression that his client is very much in demand, or a journalist who puts two and two together at his desk. Neither is a very firm foundation for credibility. It remains for each reader to decide whether it makes sense for United to target a certain player. In today’s avalanche of rumours I’ve picked up two that I feel are both reasonably credible and highly desirable:

Three c(l)ubs in tug-of-war over Jack Rodwell.

Jack Rodwell (Everton) is the most promising teenager in the PL. He is versatile and equally comfortable in central defence or as a holding midfielder. At 18 he was very impressive in the European Under-21 finals and I don’t think it will be very long before he plays for England. David Moyes will be desperate to keep hold of him, but Everton could find it hard to resist the financial might of United and Chelsea. These three clubs are likely fight it out, but probably not until the summer.

Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich) is one of the best full-backs in the world. He could play either side, but United would want him mainly as a right-back.  This rumour is probably of the put-two-and-two-together variety since United have reportedly been interested in the past and Lahm’s position is now uncertain following his recent criticism of Bayern’s transfer policy and lack of strategic planning.

Rodwell would be a long-term investment, but the arrival of Lahm would immediately strengthen the first XI. Neville is past his best, probably Brown too, O’Shea is adequate cover while Rafael might become o world-class player, but that’s still a few years down the line.

My guess is that we will not see an awful lot of activity from Ferguson in January. But it might be a good idea to move quickly for Lahm while he’s unhappy about Bayern’s suits. And then we will hopefully pull out all stops to get Rodwell in the summer.

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Time to move for the next Peter Schmeichel

Posted by hakanrylander on August 24, 2009

PIX-FF9ATQOur present goalkeeper strategy seems very sensible. With Edwin van der Sar in his, probably, last season, Ben Foster will be given plenty of opportunities to prove himself. Presumably even at times when Van der Sar is fit. Sir Alex firmly believes that Foster will be England’s first-choice keeper in South Africa next summer, and beyond that the permanent successor to Van der Sar.

I’m not completely convinced by this strategy. Firstly, Foster’s injury problems have been far too frequent to install confidence in him as a reliable long-term solution. Secondly, I’ve been occasionally impressed but also  from time to time worried by his performances, e.g in the Community Shield a couple of weeks ago.

Even so there is no need to try to sign a new keeper unless you could identify one with genuine potential to be a long-term solution of the calibre of Casillas or Schmeichel.  I belive that such a solution was, perhaps still is, available this summer. I’m referring to 23-year-old Manuel Neuer at Schalke 04. I admit that I haven’t watched him regularly in the Bundesliga, but a number of hugely impressive performances in the European Under-21 Championship this summer convinced me that he should be our next keeper.

The end of the transfer window is fast approaching and a deal this week is unlikely. I fear that the competition for his signature will be very fierce next summer.

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The Valencia enigma

Posted by hakanrylander on June 25, 2009

Regular readers of Between the Lines will be well aware that I’m a great fan of Antonio Valencia. I certainly hope that he will be one of our summer signings.

There are, however, some puzzling aspects to this proposed deal, partly brought to my attention by some interesting comments by James Ryddel at A Kick in the Grass. If Valencia is such an excellent player (as I think he is), why aren’t more clubs queing up to sign him? The Wigan chairman is doing his best to give the impression that United is not the only club chasing their star player, but it appears that the only other club involved is Real Madrid. The logical explanation for this lack of interest is that many clubs feel that Valencia is a good player, but overpriced.

Secondly: Does it really make sense for Real to be interested at all? In the last few weeks they’ve embarked on an, even by their standards, extreme galacticos strategy. Ronaldo and Kaka are in the bag and Ribery and Benzema possibly on their way. Does Valencia fit into that kind of strategy?

So, maybe United don’t face much competition when it comes to signing Valencia. If that’s the case it should be possible to push the fee down a bit. Even so, my advice to Sir Alex remains; sign Valencia ffs!

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