Manchester United is set to battle Manchester City for the signature of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fernandinho during the January transfer window. According to the Daily Mirror, United has entered the race in hopes of keeping Fernandinho away from rival City. While Manchester United would benefit from adding a midfielder to boost their defense, they would be better suited to look elsewhere in January.
According to the Daily Mail, Sir Alex Ferguson has ruled out any January moves saying, "No, the January transfer market has never been the best transfer market and that has been proven over the years with very few big transfers happening. All the big transfers happen in the summer."
While this may be the case right now, the potential opportunity to sign a player away from their rivals may be too much for United to pass up.
United's biggest weakness this season has been their defensive midfield play, which has led to the club conceding a number of goals. They do need to do a better job of owning the midfield and allowing their wealth of talent up top to control the game.
They've been able to overcome the weakness during league play, but when they face bigger and bolder midfields in Champions League they will be exposed unless they make a move. Fernandinho appears to be the type of player they are looking for, but the timing of the move isn't right.
Fernandinho has played excellent football this season for Shakhtar, most notably advancing through the Champions League group stage. He put together some very strong performances against very good teams in Chelsea and Juventus, raising his value and proving he can play in a much tougher league than in Ukraine.
The biggest problem for United is that because of Shakhtar's involvement in the Champions League, Fernandinho would be ineligible for Champions League play following his transfer (though eligible in every other competition).
The move would then be more angled toward domestic competition, which seems silly when they could go after a player that would help out domestically and be eligible for the Champions League.
Another issue with signing is that Fernandinho is 27 years old. Again, it would seem a much smarter move to go after a younger player that will be able to spend years as a defensive midfielder.
The possible move seems to simply be an attempt at keeping a player they like away from their rivals. At this point, United would be much better suited letting Fernandinho go to City and focus on getting a player that can help them in Champions League play.