Manchester United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, hopes to do the majority of his pre season transfer activity quickly, just as he did last season when Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves were all bought soon after the end of the previous season. Sir Alex hopes to act fast before anyone else makes moves for his transfer targets, as well as to ensure that the price of these targets aren’t inflated due to a good performance at Euro 08, or more interest. Of course the sooner he completes his transfer activity the sooner he can begin to fully prepare his plans for next season.
United have a substantial transfer budget for this season, as the Glazers and Sir Alex look to keep United ahead of the chasing pack, both in England and Europe. They have also allowed Pique to move back to Barcelona, and will probably look to sell the French pair of Saha and Silvestre. Johnny Evans is another who could be on his way, with Birmingham joining Sunderland in pursuit of the highly rated young centre back. However whether he leaves on loan or is sold is up for debate as he is a player that Sir Alex and his staff value highly. With Pique gone Evans may get his chance to play a few games, and serve as back up to Ferdinand and Vidic this coming season.
United are said to be after a right back, a forward and possibly a winger to improve their double winning squad. Wes Brown was one of United’s best players last season, filling in at right back for captain Gary Neville, who has only played one match in 18 months due to injury. While Brown has done enough to justify his place as United’s first choice right back, the sale of Pique and possible sale of Silvestre will leave United short of cover at centre back, a position that is Brown’s first choice. Thus the need to bring in a right back becomes even greater, as United look to Nevilles long term successor. Dani Alves and Micah Richards are both being strongly linked with United, and both offer different skills to United. Alves is more attacking and would be a mirror image of United’s left back Evra, offering United even more attacking fire power. United face competition from Barcelona for his signature, which is somewhat ironic as it is United’s sale of Pique to Barcelona that makes a right back a priority. Richards is a big strong defender who can play down the right or in the middle of defence, and being English will help to add to the home grown core that SIr Alex favours. Richards is seen as Neville’s successor at international level, and he may find himself filling that role at club level too. While getting Manchester City to part with one of their best assets, and to their biggest rivals, may be a hard task, the recent back room problems at City may make them willing sellers, and United more than willing buyers.
Upfront United will be looking to buy a goal scorer, a role that Saha has not filled due to persistent injuries, and one that United have been missing since Van Nisterlrooy went to Madrid. While Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo have been superb this season, United do need the added dimension of a more traditional goal scorer to add to their squad, particularly in Europe, and when struggling to break down opposition in England. A number of names have been put forward from Berbatov, Fabiano to Huntelaar. While Fabiano and Huntelaar may fit the mould, Berbatov is not really an out and out goal scorer, and his sulky actions may have be a negative affect on team spirit. Sir Alex’s number one target though appears to be Lyon’s Karim Benzema. United hope to act swiftly and complete the signing of Benzema before he has a good Euro 08 and sees his price tag inflate. Benzema would be exactly what United need, someone who is young and full of promise, and who would understand that he needs time to settle into English football, and not demand to be involved all the time right away. The introductions of Nani and Anderson into the squad is a prime example of what United will look to do to a young promising talent.
With constant speculation about Ronlado’s future never ending United will need to look to strengthen their midfield whether or not their star player leaves. While Carrick, Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani will all look to play more games next season, United will see less of legends Giggs and Scholes, and while Park does seem a favourite of Sir Alex, they will still need to bring in someone else. Whether they go for a winger or a central player is not known yet. Sportings Veloso was heavily linked with United, but not much has been heard for a while. The same can be said of his Sporting and Portugal team mate Moutinho. Veloso would be a good choice as he can play in the centre of midfield, and provide cover for the defense. Moutinho would be a good attacking option, looking to play behind the front men, as Paul Scholes used to. The addition of more Portuguese players could also help keep Ronaldo at United. Like with Benzema United will have to act quickly before these players prices double after Euro 08, and with interest stemming from Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs as well as Italy and Spain.
With the Euro champs less than a week away United will have to be very busy, and fast, if they are to make any transfer targets United players as soon as they can. The Nani and Anderson deals surprised us all with their swiftness ans secrecy, lets see if United have any more surprises up their sleeves this time.