As news filters through that last season’s surprise signing, Bebe, is to go out on loan to Besiktas next season; one can’t help but be bemused by the whole situation.
Signed to everyone’s astonishment last year, Bebe spent most of last season playing for the Reserves despite the fact he cost us over £7m to buy. Coming from the Portuguese lower-leagues (when most fans were expecting us to buy Ozil) it was generally accepted that he was one for the future, having never really had the benefit of proper training or tuition.
Despite scoring some goals in his few first-team appearances, Bebe’s performances at the Theatre of Dreams were generally underwhelming. Despite the fact that it was clear he had the physical attributes to succeed, his rustiness and naivety frustrated the Old Trafford faithful.
Nonetheless, realising his background, most fans were prepared to put their trust in Sir Alex, who obviously thought the boy had potential. In August, Sir Alex said:
“His fitness levels are nowhere near where we are at but other than that he’s done well…Ability wise, he’s excellent and he’s a terrific finisher, We’ve been very impressed with that.”
Considering this, and the improvements he made during the latter half of the Reserves season, now seems a strange time for Sir Alex to let him go and this subsequently raises some important questions (regardless of whether or not there is an option to buy in the loan).
Wouldn’t Sir Alex Train Him Better?
Having caught people’s attention in Portugal purely because of his raw ability, it was clear that Sir Alex Ferguson’s scouts saw him as a rough diamond, who would need working on to fulfil his potential.
Neglected of any professional technical or physical training, many people thought Bebe would be locked away in Carrington, away from the spotlight, and worked on for at least a season before slowly being introduced into the first team fold.
Therefore, having clearly made big strides (fitness-wise) it is surprising to see him leaving for Turkey where he will probably be restricted to training, rather than games, once again. If this is the case, does Sir Alex not think his time would be better spent training in some of the best facilities in the world, with some of the best coaches and players in the world?
Sir Alex has a proven track record in nurturing young talents and developing their game but his decision to ship out Bebe could suggest that he’s already written off the 6ft 3″ tall forward.
Is There No Room in the Squad?
Despite all the rules and regulations governing squads in the Premier League nowadays, Bebe’s departure cannot be attributed to these in any way. According to the Premier League:
“An Under 21 player is defined as one who is under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences. For the 2011/21 campaign, Under 21 players will have been born on or after 1st January 1990.”
Therefore, being born on the 12th July 1990, one can see that he would not have taken up any space in the 25-man squad, meaning he would have been free to train and improve with us all year round, without impeding on the success of the first team.
Despite the fact we have 4 Portuguese speakers in the squad, in Nani, Anderson, Rafael and Fabio, Bebe may be struggling to adapt to life in Manchester. Therefore, the move may be motivated by climate or another personal reason. Either way, he should probably feel comfortable in Turkey, considering the exotic weather and strong Portuguese contingent at Besiktas, including:
Ricardo Quaresma - Former Inter Milan winger.
Hugo Almedia - Former Werder Bremen forward.
Simao - Former Athletico Madrid winger.
Manuel Fernandes - Former Everton midfielder.
Sidnei - Brazilian on-loan from Benfica.
Simao, Quaresma, Bebe?
Will He Get Game Time in Turkey?
One key barrier to Bebe’s possible playing time next season is the rules implemented by the Turkish Football Association, who have:
“firm limits on the number of foreign players local clubs can employ… as teams can [only] have eight in a squad and only six on the pitch at once.”
Therefore, with Guti (C), Quaresma, Almedia, Simao and Fernandes all significantly more experienced than him, in the forward positions, he may well struggle to displace any of them from the team (although it is likely that one of them will be injured at any one time).
Although it seems coincidental that the Portuguese winger is departing now that the Ashley Young deal is reaching a conclusion, I do not feel the two are related.
Bebe played primarily on the right last year, unlike Young, and he was already behind Nani and Valencia in the pecking order.
Macheda in, Bebe Out?
Conversely, I think Bebe’s departure may suggest that Macheda will be staying at Old Trafford next season, as Sir Alex has stated that he believes Bebe will be a striker in the long-term.
With Owen already signed up for another year, it would be very difficult for Sir Alex to give both Macheda and Bebe game-time next season. Therefore, I believe he has made the decision to keep the indifferent Italian as he feels that he is the more talented of the two. Personally, I do not think Bebe necessarily needs game-time (just training time) but Sir Alex may think differently.
Cutting Our Losses Too Early?
Having spent roughly £7m in purchasing Bebe (with nearly half of it going to Portuguese super-agent Jorge Mendes), I am surprised to see us trying to offload our large investment so quickly.
Being only 20, Bebe has many years ahead of him in which to improve and develop. Therefore, I am surprised we have not chosen to spend more time working on him, especially considering he is ‘only’ on £90,000 a year. Why sell him for £2m or £3m now, when we could let him develop for a few years, for virtually no cost, and possibly see him blossom into a great player?
Why Not Obertan?
Personally, if I was going to sell one of our reserves wingers, I would sell Obertan before Bebe. At 22, he seems unable to transfer his undoubted talent into an end product when he steps onto the Old Trafford pitch. It seems to me that he just doesn’t have the temperament or nerve to play for Manchester United.
Any Better than Bebe?
Why not sell him (and his poor attitude) to a lower PL club now and let him fulfil his potential elsewhere, especially as we have Young coming in at LM?
If Bebe has played his last game at Old Trafford, I will forever remember him for his antics with the microphone during the open-top bus through Manchester. Legend.
Overall, I am very surprised by the whole situation. Bebe will invariably be labelled a flop by many football fans but, personally, I think he has been the victim of having a hefty transfer fee (unfairly) put over his head.
When we bought Bebe, we were entirely buying potential and raw talent. Therefore, I am very surprised that Sir Alex does not want to nurture him into the player that he could be. Sure, he may not be the next Ronaldo but I am sure he would improve immeasurably from where he is now with the right coaching and training.
Either way, I wish Bebe the best of luck next season and beyond. In Sir Alex we trust!