Ever since the days of Duncan Edwards & George Best, Manchester United’s wingers have epitomized the clubs attacking ethos. Regardless of the opposition, the timing and the occasion, the Reds have always tried to play attacking football, primarily through the use of our talented wide men. Although we are blessed with a plethora of right wingers, we have always struggled to produce, or find, many left footed wingers. Nonetheless, we have ‘recently’ been blessed with one of the world’s all-time greats, the Welsh Wizard Sir Ryan Giggs, but it is about time, after 20 years, that we should start looking to replace him with a summer signing.
With Antonio Valencia returning to the fold in the near-future, following Nani‘s blistering form this season, we are lucky to have some great right wingers but have still been linked with Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean, as a transfer target. More importantly, on the left, Giggs cannot go on forever (despite signing a recent contract extension), so we must start assessing our transfer targets, especially if we are to avoid seeing a frustrated Wayne Rooney out-wide again. Here is a look at some of Sir Alex’s targets and possible acquisitions:
Bale Showcased His Prodigious Talent, When he Embarrassed Maicon
Recently lauded by Fabio Capello as the best player in the world, the 21 year old Welshman has made amazing progress this season – transforming himself from a misfit squad player to Spurs’ most valuable asset. Playing as a left midfielder, having struggled defensively at left-back, Bale rose to international prominence following his hat-trick against Inter Milan in the Champions League. Although he has great strength and superb delivery, it is the Welshman’s ability to ghost past players which is most impressive; something he seemingly does by turning on the afterburners. At £40m, he wouldn’t be a cheap summer signing but for a 21 year-old player, reminiscent of Ryan Giggs, I would say its a bargain!
As a speedy winger with a deadly delivery, the Watford-born player is a possible summer signing, having been subject of a £15m from Man United in the January transfer window. With only 15 months left on his contract, the 25 year-old transfer target has been reluctant to commit his future to Aston Villa, having expressed his desire for European football. If United were to bid for the England international in the summer, Randy Lerner may be forced to accept a bargain bid of £10m, or below, in order to avoid losing him for nothing in June 2012. If United were to buy him at that price, it would certainly leave us room to invest in the squad elsewhere.
A star for the Argentinian youth teams, the little winger caught people’s attention with his diminutive figure and electric dribbles at the South America U20 Championships. Due to their physical similarities and nationality, there have been inevitable comparisons with the great Lionel Messi, but as he said himself, the superstar is only “an example as a player and a person.” Although he has already agreed to join FC Porto on his 18th Birthday this June, there are rumours circulating that a deal has been agreed for him to join Manchester United very soon. If the media is to be trusted, there is apparently a deal in place that will see him move to Manchester, once he settles into European football. A deal which has been brokered by the Reds thanks to their favourable relationships with Portuguese agents, following the arrivals of Bebe, Nani & Ronaldo.
Currently playing for Shaktar Donetsk, the 20 year-old Brazilian attracted interest from the Red Devils a few seasons ago and has recently reappeared on our radar as a transfer target, following some outstanding performances in the Champions League. Priced at roughly £15m, it would ironically be cheaper than the £20m United were quoted when he was an 18 year-old teenager at Gremio. If United do decide to invest in this left-footed wide-man, they will need to fight off interest from Manchester City, who would also like to sign him, and Spurs, if they finish in the top 4 of the Premier League.
Giggs, Nani & Park
What Happens If We Don’t Strengthen This Area?
In the short term, with Ryan Giggs’ amazing regenerative skills & Ji Sung Park’s international retirement, Old Trafford have two great, contrasting players to rotate on the left, for at least another season. However, having a strong dependence on two 30-somethings is always risky considering his increased recovery times. Both players are, in their own right, superb individuals but are realistically coming to the twilight of their Manchester United careers.
At only 24, Manchester United have one of the world’s best players in Nani, but I believe he is best on the right wing. Therefore, if United are to reach their full potential, we need to find a left-sided player to balance the team. Currently, Man United have Danny Welbeck & Tom Cleverley, who could play on the left in the medium term. Welbeck has thrived, at the Stadium of Light, as a left winger, where he has the flexibility to come inside and drift up front. Before his knee injury, he was hitting top form – scoring goals and tracking back – with some amazing performances against Chelsea etc. Cleverley, on the other hand, has struggled in a weak Wigan Athletic side, spending a lot of time on the treatment table and bench. However, considering his performances at Watford, I believe Fergie will want him at Old Trafford next season.
Looking even further ahead, Manchester United have already signed Gyliano Van Velzen, from Ajax’s academy. Considered one of Dutch football’s brightest prospects, the tall midfielder has enjoyed success on the left, for both United’s Academy & Reserves, and looks a definite play for the future! Either way, if all else fails, we have Obertan…