Four left in United limbo
A quartet of fringe players, each included in Manchester United’s Premier and Champions League squads this week, may seek to move out of the club on loan once the window opens next week. Although the English summer transfer season closed at 11pm last Thursday night, with no dramatic last-minute deals brokered by Sir Alex Ferguson, players can move to the Championship and certain overseas markets from 8 September. Darron Gibson, Tomasz Kuszczak, Mame Biram Diouf and Federico Macheda may seek temporary opportunities elsewhere, having seen no action to date this season.
Indeed, of the quartet only Macheda is unavailable for permanent transfer, with some surprise that Gibson, Kuszazck and Diouf were unable to find new permanent homes this past summer. Gibson and Kuszazck spent pre-season with United’s reserves, while Diouf was afforded minimal opportunities with Ferguson’s first string on tour in the US. None of the quartet has featured in Ferguson’s squads for Premier League matches to date.
While an ankle injury suffered by Darron Gibson may have ended Aston Villa’s reported interest in the midfielder, the Irishman is unlikely to find a route to Ferguson’s first-team squad, let alone team in the coming weeks. Although the Scot failed to add a marquee signing to his central midfield resources over the summer, Tom Cleverley’s outstanding form so early this season has removed any requirement for Gibson to remain at Old Trafford. Quite why a £6 million move to Sunderland broke down in July remains a mystery, with Sunderland briefing journalists that the Irishman’s wage demands were too high but Ferguson claiming the Wearside club had changed its offer.
Meanwhile, Kuszazck’s inability to find a new club leaves the Pole third choice behind David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard. A mooted transfer to West Bromwich Albion ended when former United stopper Ben Foster joined the Midlanders. CSKA Moscow then failed to follow up a reported interest in the former Hertha Berlin ‘keeper with a concrete offer. The 29-year-old ‘keeper has made just 61 appearances in all competitions during five seasons at Old Trafford; it is almost inconceivable that Kuszazck will add a 62nd appearance to that total.
Then there is Diouf, whose loan spell at Blackburn Rovers last season yielded just three Premier League goals in 26 appearances for Steve Kean’s outfit. No wonder, perhaps, that there have been no takers this summer. Two goals against New York Cosmos during Paul Scholes testimonial appeared to offer the Senegalese striker a glimmer of hope but with seven strikers in Ferguson’s squad the £3.5 million January 2009 acquisition can only hope for sporadic opportunities in the Carling and FA Cups this season.
Macheda faces a different challenge of course, with Ferguson seeking to retain the striker in the long-term. But it is now three seasons since the Italian burst onto the scene with match changing goals against Villa and Sunderland and the youngster must surely now play to progress. Yet there appears to be little chance of the Rome-born player breaking into Ferguson’s first team plans as Danny Welbeck has done to such great effect this season. Indeed, it is a major surprise that United was seemingly unable to find the striker a loan move this summer, with Newcastle United reportedly interested. And while it is likely Ferguson prefers the player to move within England, the Premier League is no longer an option until 1 January 2012.
Each of the quartet was selected in United’s UEFA Champions League squad this week, which includes 24 of a possible 25 players on the ‘A’ list. Ferguson added a further 10 to the ‘B’ group, including first team regulars Fábio and Rafael da Silva, and Welbeck. However, with the Scot able to add unlimited ‘homegrown’ under-21 players to his match-day party talented yougsters including Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba could be included at a later date. Homegrown players are those who, regardless of nationality, have been trained by United or another club England for at least three years between the age of 15 and 21.
But inclusion is unlikely to proffer any of the quartet significant match time, relegating Macheda to minor cup competitions and the remainder of the trio to, perhaps, even less than that unless a move away is found. In that there is a significant challenge. After all none of the quartet, bar perhaps Diouf, is a Championship-level player and of the major European leagues only Turkey’s window remains open – until 5 September.
UEFA Champions League Squad
Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Tomasz Kuszczak, Anders Lindegaard, Ben Amos*, Sam Johnstone*
Defenders: Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidić, Fabio*, Rafael*, Sean McGinty*
Midfielders: Anderson, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-Sung, Michael Carrick, Nani, Ashley Young, Thomas Cleverley, Darren Fletcher
Antonio Valencia, Darron Gibson, Matty James*, Davide Petrucci*
Forwards: Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernández, Danny Welbeck*, Federico Macheda*, Mame Biram Diouf, Will Keane*
* B List