There is, as the old cliché goes, no smoke without fire. So it is no without surprise that yet another Nemanja Vidic exit story appeared in today’s press. This time, though, The Times reports that the giant Serbian defender is the target of a mooted summer bid from crosstown rivals Manchester City. A chilling thought in a media-fought battle to keep the defender at Old Trafford.
Despite Vidic’s limited participation this term, with calf and “nerve” injuries limiting the former-Spartak Moscow player to just 13 appearances, the Serbian clearly wants a substantial pay rise. The defender’s contract, worth in the £50,000 per week region until 2012, is not deemed sufficient for a player of his standing. So the rumour goes, at least.
With two years remaining on the contract, the board is yet to open talks with a player who is consistently linked with moves to Real Madrid, Barcelona, AC Milan and now City in the press.
With the board in cost-cutting mode, and Vidic able to command more than £100,000 per week on the open market, it’s a figure that United is unlikely to match in the club’s current economic state.
The fee to secure his services, with two years remaining on the 28-year-old’s contract, could be more than £20 million. It’s a figure that will no doubt have the bean-counters sweating in the Old Trafford boardroom.
In a game that is now being played out openly in the media, United’s management has been less than secretive about its admiration for Everton’s hugely versatile Jack Rodwell and the Danish defender Simon Kjaer, now at Palermo.
The planning for succession, it seems, has already begun. Indeed, the board has already brought in the 20-year-old centre-back Chris Smalling from Fulham in a £10 million deal that could rise to more than £12 million should the player fulfill certain criteria.
Moreover, such is Jonny Evan’s outstanding current form that there is a fair argument to promote the Northern Irish international ahead of Vidic given the Serbian’s limited involvement in the current campaign.
More worrying still is Vidic’s fitness, or lack thereof. In recent matches the defender has trained all week only to pull himself out of the matchday squad. The more cynical observer might question the defender’s commitment to the cause.
It’s a fact that has exasperated Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Scot to say that the player “does not want to hang around,” according to a recent report in the The Guardian.
The player is unwavering in his public commitment to United, stating that he’s happy at the club and reports his wife wants to leave are wide of the mark. He could hardly say anything else if he wants a much improved contract. The suspicious remains that the player has done little to discourage interested continental club’s from following up on their inquiries with firm summer bids.
It all points to a probable exit to the highest bidder come August, with Vidic playing for Serbia at this summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa during June and July.
The player faces a tough opening group including Africa Cup of Nations finalists Ghana, together with Germany and Australia. Perhaps the best United’s board can hope for is that Vidic has an outstanding tournament, adding a few million to the player’s market price.