With Manchester United having suffered five defeats already this season, Rant looks at ten players who could boost the club’s domestic and European ambitions in 2010 and beyond. As silly season approaches, each of these players will move to the club in a multi-million deal, according to the media that is!
Manuel Neuer: The 6’3″ German stopper is on the verge of taking the number one spot for his country ahead of the World Cup in South Africa next year. Schalke’s prize asset will not come cheap at more than £10 million but Neuer, watched by United scouts consistently over the past year, has presence and technique. While Sir Alex Ferguson is unlikely to recruit a ‘keeper mid-season a summer move seems possible with the 24-year-old ready to make a step up.
Igor Akinfeev: The 23-year-old ‘keeper produced a couple of decent displays against United in Champions League Group B to bring the Russian number one to the forefront of many supporters’ minds. While United scouts have watched the CSKA Moscow captain on many occasions there are doubts about the player’s stature at just 6″1″.
Phillip Lahm: United’s interest in the German international appears to have been no secret for the past 18 months, although a concrete bid has never been placed with Bayern Munich for the 26-year-old. The Munich-born defender, who can play on either flank, would offer solidity in the right-back area with Gary Neville, Rafael da Silva, John O’Shea and Wes Brown suffering injuries in recent times.
Ezequiel Garay: Real Madrid’s fourth-choice central defender is available with the free-spending Spanish outfit seeking to cut club debts. While a mooted loan agreement is unlikely to happen with Madrid is seeking quick cash, a £5 million fee is more realistic for the Argentinian. Ferguson’s interest, despite injuries to each of his central defenders this season, is another point altogether.
Michah Richards: Surely a move across town is inconceivable for the England international defender who is yet to secure a consistent place in Mark Hughes’ side? Richards, once the bright young thing of the England side, has something of an ‘attitude problem’ that has not found favour under Hughes’ austere management.
David Silva: The stylish Spanish international, who can play through the centre of midfield or wide-left, is available from cash-strapped Valencia. Talented, creative and with an eye for goal, Las Palmas-born Silva could be the answer to United’s lack of creativity through central areas this season. However, his slight frame, £20 million plus price and Gabriel Obertan’s emergence may count against a move to the Premier League champions.
Franc Ribéry: While Ferguson is a huge admirer of the multi-talented Frenchman, Ribéry’s proposed price means that a move to Real Madrid or Chelsea is almost inevitable. Ferguson has consistently complained of little value in the transfer market and the £45 – £60 million price tag placed on the former-Marseille winger’s head is ample evidence.
Alan Dzagoev: Rumoured to interest Real Madrid, Dzagoev is surely destined for bigger things. The CSKA Moscow player, 19, scored at Old Trafford during the 3-3 draw with United in November and has broken into the full Russian national team this season. With a one-in-three strike rate, Dzagoev would offer United not only creativity but goals from midfield too.
David Villa: Valencia’s goal-machine Villa would surely light up the Premier League. With a goal-a-game ratio at international level, Villa would complement United’s current strikers. However, a transfer might break Dimitar Berbatov’s fragile confidence and the Glazers’ bank at more than £30 million.
Jan Klass Huntelaar: Once again linked with a move to United this week, Huntelaar is available after just six months in Milan. This followed an equally short spell in Spanish football with Real Madrid. Quite why Ferguson is apparently interested, despite the Dutchman’s excellent goalscoring record in domestic football, is unclear.
Karim Benzema: The pacey, talented, great white hope of French football moved to Real Madrid in a £35 million deal this summer. Ferguson, outbid by the Spanish side, was hugely disappointed to miss out on the former Lyon forward. Benzema’s direct style would certainly add something to United’s squad but would the fans take to a player for whom United was second best?