Manchester United: Wayne Rooney out and Nani Departs?
Sir Alex Ferguson was widely reported on Friday as having said that there would be no more signings for United. This was wrong. Some sources also reported that all transfer business was finished. Equally wrong.
In answer to the question:
"One more week of the transfer window, is that you done as far as ins and outs are concerned?"
Sir Alex responded:
"Definitely not going to be buying anyone else, that's for sure."
Then, in answer to the supplementary:
"As far as perhaps players moving the other way, is there any scope for that?"
"There's no movement that I can tell you about to be honest with you..."
Now when people use the phrase "to be honest with you" it can sometimes indicate a certain economy with the truth. That is not to suggest any untruth, but Sir Alex is not the only manager to have prevaricated.
After all, in a tense transfer market, why would you want to give your competitors any hint whatsoever that might scupper your plans.
To deal with the easier matter first. Dimitar Berbatov is available, and Sir Alex is highly likely to let Federico Macheda or Bebe go if a suitable offer came in.
This is unfortunate for the Italian who may not feel he has been given a fair break and has had his share of bad luck. Frankly he's not followed through the immense promise he showed at 17.
Bebe is an embarrassment. Ferguson may yet get some return on his £7.5 million splurge. Especially after the Portuguese showed sparkling form on the preseason tour. He won't make United's first team any time soon, so time for the next chapter.
Berbatov's most likely destination is Fiorentina at present, although they are reluctant to meet United's reduced valuation of £5 million.
They may need to get their skates on. Time is running out and a growing number of teams are discovering they need a credible striker.
Ferguson is playing "Mexican standoff" with both player and suitors. Berbatov understandably wants to play European football, but he also wants to be wanted and played regularly. Sir Alex will get close to his £5 million by September 4.
No more buying?
Probably. But that doesn't rule out a swap or loan deal. Was Sir Alex cunningly trying to mislead?
Maybe the need for a temporary stop-gap such as Philippe Mexes on a one-year or even six-month loan has receded. Pity. He would have added a touch of class and experience long enough to get all five centre backs fighting fit.
A really smart deal would be to swap Berbatov and Macheda to Tottenham for Rafael Van Der Vaart. Now that Robin van Persie is at Old Trafford, could Sir Alex have tapped him up for advice on his Dutch colleagues. Spurs certainly need strikers.
No doubt he sought direct or indirect assurance at least through the Dutch striker before signing his fellow countryman Alexander Buttner?
Nani to go?
If it was stark-staring obvious to all and sundry how poor Nani was against Everton, you can bet Sir Alex may have finally snapped.
Sir Alex has been known to lose patience with players who hint at disloyalty. Nani is worth at least £20 million, maybe more at this late stage. The Euros showed that he can still deliver at the highest level.
So although Sir Alex ruled out any more buying, he did not similarly eschew selling. Nani's fee would half balance the books or even finance a last minute swoop.
But where is the need? Well it's pretty obvious really, even after today. United still need a creative midfielder capable of dominating games.
OK, so Anderson was back towards his best but ran out of puff badly, early in the second half. Tom Cleverley got better, got an assist for Shinji Kagawa's goal with one of two rasping shots but far from dominated.
Now here is something really intriguing. Responding to the article yesterday about the Fulham match, a contributor wrote:
"Nani was on a flight to Brussels this evening from Manchester Airport, so looks like there will be another spot on the bench....source: work there and saw him myself."
He certainly wasn't on the bench nor did he seem to be anywhere near Old Trafford.
Wesley Sneijder to Old Trafford
And in 2011 when Meulensteen, United's coach publicly stated it.
That's not such a daft supposition. Inter Milan don't look like they are overflowing with cash, based on their recent transfer activity.
They are also clearly open to player swaps.
Giampaolo Pazzini was swapped with AC Milan for Antonio Cassano.
There were rumours that they would take Nicklas Bendtner in exchange for Mexes.
So why not Sneijder for Nani. No cash needs to change hands. Inter swap £250,000 a week for £130,000 a week. Saves £25 million in four years.
But why Brussels? Well, to add another intriguing note, Belgian international Nicolas Lombaerts plays for Zenit St Petersburg.
And now the Daily Mail is suggesting that United are open to offers for Anderson as well. That would certainly clear the way for Sneijder...
Pretty terrible for anyone to have such a ghastly injury as Rooney sustained this afternoon. It does help Sir Alex out of a hole, however. Or maybe two?
Rooney looked out of form and out of fitness against Everton, but he put in a shift.
Sir Alex undoubtedly dropped him in favour of van Persie. It was easy to see why when he came on. For a professional who may be on over £200,000 a week to be so out of condition, even at the start of the season, is unprofessional and unforgivable.
Van Persie has had virtually no preseason action but looked as fit as the visiting Usain Bolt, in comparison to the seemingly overweight and jowly ex-Evertonian. Just look at his neck blubber as he is taken off on the stretcher at the end of this video.
So how does that help? OK so United have lost a top striker for four weeks. But at least he might get himself properly fit by the time he returns.
At face value it leaves Ferguson with only three strikers: van Persie of course; Danny Welbeck (who isn't firing on six cylinders yet, either); and Chicharito (who has largely been firing blanks).
But remember, the formation this afternoon worked, with Kagawa at No.10 and only one striker.
In addition, Angelo Henriquez arrives at Old Trafford tomorrow, according to Sir Alex, clutching his newly granted work permit and in scintillating goal-scoring form.
They say it's an ill-wind that blows nobody any good.
Rooney will miss out and so will England, during the next month. But don't rule out United having four strikers available next week against Southampton, including three of the most exciting young goalscorers on the planet.
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