We all know Man United already have a great squad, some great players and an impressive strength in depth. Our squad numbers over 40 players, Heaps of kids under 21, quite a few under 25 and a handful of players between 25 and 30 with only a few players above 30 years of age.
Edwin, Gary, Paul, Ryan and Rio are the only ones showing signs of being affected by age. Ryan is "winding back the clock" and Rio's form hick-up is based, i feel, more on injuries than age. At 30, soon to be 31, he's got at least 4 good years left at the top of the game if he can shake the lower back and leg problems. Paul, Gary and Edwin can play well until the rest of the season, but after that, i do worry, especially for Neville, who looked positively vibrant, bouncy and speedy going forward against Bolton, and at times looked stable in defense, but at others, looked shaky, and was responsible, at least in part, for Bolton's goal, and looked shaky in the final 15 minutes defending the 1 goal lead.
Edwin (38), Gary (34), Paul (34) and Ryan (35), have had great careers in football, and won many trophies at United. But past success should not blind us to the fact that they cannot keep playing to our ever increasing standards for ever. Players like Gibson, Possebon, Cleverley, Hewson, Simpson, Rafael,Fabio, De Laet,Tosic, Macheda, Welbeck Eikrem, etc etc need exposure at the highest level to improve their games.
Being at the best club in the world isn't enough to become a great player.
I usually don't like to see United buy 18-20 year old players, who force out UNited academy graduates, and deprive them of the chance to play at the very highest level, but sometimes a wave of young recruits, coinciding with the retirement of some of the legends of the game, can be beneficial to all three parties, the newcomers, the youngsters already at the club, and the club itself.
So who do i think United's hierachy should look to bring in??
Sebastian Frey(29), Gary Cahill(23), Steven Defour(21), Marek Hamsik(22) and Stevan Jovetic(19).
Sebastian Frey has been performing very well for Fiorentina, and his various other clubs, and under any other coach but Domenech, would be France's number 1 ahead of another potential world class keeper, Hugo Lloris. Frey, at 28 has had many years of experience, has won the Coppa Italia and Super Copa with Parma and has great footwork and allround keeping skills, and shows good command of his defense while being good in the air. Unless Foster or Tommy K really step up to the plate and deliver between now and January, sir alex might like to send his brother over to have a look at Sebastian.
A price between 5 and 10 million pounds would be worth it.
Gary Cahill, at 23 has the potential to be Jonny Evans' long term partner in the centre of United's defense. His move from Villa to Bolton allowed him more game time and he has shown the necessary qualities, both in his ball playing, game reading and tackling skills to be effective at the highest levels. I'm yet to see him show his pace, but his ability to intercept passes at the heart of the Bolton defense shows he can get to where he needs to be with time remaining.
A price between 15 and 20 million pounds would be worth it.
The other three players are almost self explanitory,
Steven Defour is a classy creative midfield passer, and opens up the game for his side with Fabregas-esqe passing and movement.A price between 10 and 15 million pounds would be worth it.
Marek Hamsik is great going forward, can pass and shoot from distance with both feet, is good with his head and can play as a striker when called upon. A price between 15 and 20 million pounds would be worth it.
Stevan Jovetic is a phenomenal talent. I would have loved to see United go out and get him back in 2007, when we were reported looking to sign him, but he moved on to Fiorentina and has progressed to the extent that he can be classed as a game changing player. He is yet to become a first choice starter for the Viola, but when he does play, he certainly makes them more adventurous in attack than Mutu and Gilardino. He may be a bit of a risk, but he's gaining vital experience at Fiorentina, playing in both a top league and in the champions league. A price between 10 and 15million would be worth it.
So for the 5 players, a the transfer fee equation would look something like this
Frey 8mil + Cahill 15mil + Defour 10mil + Hamsik 17mil + Jovetic 15mil = 65mil
From the phenomenal 80mil we received from real for Ronnie, we spent 17 on Valencia, 3 on Obertan, an undisclosed value on Diouf and nothing for Owen.
We paid nominal sums for Pogba, Massacci and Fornasier, recieved for Eckersley from Burnley, got decent transfer fees for Martin from Ipswich Manucho from Valladolid, and got 3.5mil for Campbell from Sunderland. Which means we've probably come close to breaking even, if not making a profit in our dealings brining in youngsters to the clubs. The sale of Ronaldo and the purchase of Valencia would've left 60million in the bank, so the aforementioned purchases would only result in a let outlay of a further 5 to 10 million pounds.
We have Diouf and Ljajic arriving in January, along with the probable return of Rodrigo Possebon from a torturous loan spell at AS Braga. So when should we time these possible transfers? There's no point bringing either of the Fiorentina players to the club in January unless we loan them straight back, as they are cup-tied in the Champions league, although Jovetic may be useful in the league, Frey would face further competition from Foster, Tommy K and Edwin, and wouldn't play too many games ahead of Edwin. I can see Sir Alex selling one of Foster or Kuszczak in the summer if they don't break through and stake a claim, and might even loan Foster out to a premier league side to get him a spot on the plane to South Africa.
Cahill, i think would benefit from the match experience he gets at Bolton, but i think it'd be wise for Gill to wrap up a deal for him asap and loan him back out to stop the transfer fee skyrocketing through January and the world cup.
Hamsik and Defour could both play for us in the Champs League, and would really help the team's performance in the league as well. A move for them both in January may be warranted to stop their transfer fees rising as well, although Steven Defour needs to return from injury before he can move( don't need another Hargreaves on the books).
This leads to questions about who United could sell to free up some squad places, not to mention abide by this 25 player rule. Which i think can be flouted by having some players registered in the League, others in the Champions League and others only for the cups. Which ensures the players stay fresh, the squad rotates and the youngsters get experience. But some of the peripheral members of the squad might look to make a move to another club to ensure increased playing time. And some of the younger players might look to move on to further their careers.