In his Sunday press conference ahead of Monday's friendly against Hong Kong side Kitchee SC, Manchester United manager David Moyes insisted the strength of the Japanese opponents his club had recently faced had more than a thing or two to do with a series of disappointing pre-season results.
“We’ve played two very good Japanese teams,” he told the Daily Mail following a 2-2 draw with Cerezo Osaka and 3-2 defeat to Yokahama Marinos. “We’d like to do better but I’ve seen some good signs and I think it’s improving.”
Be that as it may, there is growing pressure on the new United boss to make at least one high-profile acquisition before the 2013-14 Premier League season kicks off next month and, given the inertia that has settled over many of Europe’s biggest clubs, it may end up being a move by Moyes that finally sparks a flurry of transfer activity.
The prospective move of Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas to United could well be that move and, according to Marca, the 26-year-old looks to be closer than ever to a Camp Nou-Old Trafford switch.
But what would follow?
Using the powers of speculation, here are the big moves that could happen once the Spain international arrives at the home of the Premier League champions.
Step 1: Barcelona finally accept Manchester United’s latest offer for Cesc Fabregas, selling the midfielder for more than £30 million—Having failed to displace the likes of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta from Barcelona’s starting line-up following a 2011 move from Arsenal, Fabregas agrees to join the Red Devils ahead of the Community Shield match against Wigan.
With the 2014 World Cup less than a year away, he is particularly keen on getting as much playing time as possible, thereby cementing a slot for himself in the first-team plans of Spain manager Vicente del Bosque.
Step 2: Chelsea sign Wayne Rooney—Unhappy at Old Trafford, Rooney is finally allowed to leave once Moyes has completed the Fabregas transaction.
Chelsea, as reported by ESPN, is the destination for the out-of-sorts England attacker, who joins the Blues in exchange for £30 million.
Step 3: Arsenal acquire Luiz Suarez—Having watched two of their Premier League rivals make meaningful signings, Arsenal persist in their pursuit of Suarez and finally force Liverpool’s hand with an offer of at least £42.5 million (Express).
The Uruguayan, who scored 30 goals in all competitions last season, immediately turns the Gunners into legitimate title contenders and finally demonstrates manager Arsene Wenger’s willingness to spend serious money in the transfer window.
Step 4: Bernard joins Porto—Their attack suitably upgraded with the acquisition of Suarez, Arsenal desist in their pursuit of Atletico Mineiro attacker Bernard, who ends up joining Porto.
According to Goal, the 20-year-old is already closing in on a transfer to the Portuguese giants with his father saying he “dreams” of such a move.
Step 5: Liverpool sign Jackson Martinez—In desperate need of goals following Suarez’s exit, Liverpool turn their attention to Porto forward Jackson Martinez.
Porto, meanwhile, are keen to do business following the purchase of Bernard and agree to sell the 26-year-old for €32 million (Football-Italia). Martinez, a Colombia international, scored 34 goals in 39 matches for Porto last term—his first season in European football.
Step 6: Barcelona acquire Juan Mata—Never really in Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s plans to begin with, Mata is offloaded to Barcelona following the arrival of Rooney.
The Catalans’ eagerness to complete the signing is heightened following the exits of Thiago Alcantara and Fabregas and, with money to spend, they don’t blink at Chelsea’s £30 million valuation of the 25-year-old (Daily Star).
Step 7: Barcelona sign David Luiz—And they don’t stop there.
Having missed out on PSG defender Thiago Silva, Barcelona shell out for Chelsea centre-back David Luiz, prising the Brazilian from Stamford Bridge for £25 million (Goal).
With a backline in desperate need of reinforcement as Carlos Puyol ages and none of their prospects proving capable of making the leap to the first team, the Primera Division champions continue their summer overhaul with the acquisition of the 26-year-old.
Step 8: Chelsea snap up Leandro Castan—Already keen on Roma defender Leandro Castan according to the Express, Chelsea are prompted into action by the exit of Luiz.
A Copa Libertadores winner with Corinthians in 2012, the Brazilian continues his rocket ride to the highest level of the club game after signing off on the Chelsea switch following just 13 appearances for the Serie A side.
Step 9: Roma sign Adil Rami—In need of a defender after losing Castan to Chelsea, the Giallorossi move for Valencia's Adil Rami (Football-Italia).
Los Che's financial situation is still perilous and they find themselves in no position to resist Roma’s advances, allowing the 27-year-old France international to leave for the Italian capital.
Step 10: Real Madrid finally succeed in acquiring Gareth Bale—With Barcelona having signed Neymar, Mata and Luiz, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is moved to madness, setting a new world record transfer fee with his purchase of Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur (Telegraph).
Having played hardball as long as he could, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy eventually accepts around £100 million for the Welshman and then embarks on a spending spree of his own.
And there you have it—some fun speculation as to what might transpire should Manchester United break the transfer logjam by signing Cesc Fabregas. Let’s see how many of these steps end up transpiring.