To the frustration of Manchester United fans near and far, David Moyes has so far failed in securing a big-name signing in his post at Old Trafford.
The Scotsman’s most recent failed pursuit appears to be that of Cesc Fabregas. After months of speculation linking the Barcelona playmaker with a return to the Premier League, BBC Sport reported that the Spaniard had pledged his future to La Blaugrana, putting an end to any speculation.
Since then, and not for the first time, Manchester United’s apparent interest in signing Real Madrid’s Luka Modric has been revived, with many seeing the Croat as a significant step down from Fabregas’ quality.
However, if he were to arrive, Modric’s impact at the Theatre of Dreams may not be as far from Fabregas’ quality as some would suggest—even surpassing the former Arsenal man in some areas.
What would be the better option for the Red Devils?
The Guardian’s Jamie Jackson has suggested that it would take a fee of at least £25 million to tempt Real into selling their playmaker, which is considerably less than the £40 million offer the Daily Star’s Jeremy Cross has alleged Moyes is readying for Fabregas.
Considering the £15 million difference between the two valuations, the capture of Modric would have one particular advantage in that it wouldn’t pile as much pressure on Moyes to make the signing work.
That’s not to say the pressure wouldn’t still be substantial. However, tying up a deal for Modric at such a price—a player who arguably did as much for Tottenham as Fabregas did for Arsenal within their own parameters—would be terrific.
One man who agrees with a United decision to chase Modric instead is the Mirror's Martin Lipton, who took to Twitter to discuss the matter:
#mufc move for Modric far more realistic than attempts to land Alcantara or Fabregas. Makes sense, too (and not just for Rooney exit!)— Martin Lipton (@MartinLipton) August 9, 2013
In his first season as a Real Madrid player, the Croatian international pulled off an average 88 percent of all passes, which is just 1 percent less than what Fabregas managed in a very similar amount of league appearances.
On top of that, Modric came away from the campaign winning 65 percent of all duels, compared to the 57 percent managed by his Barcelona counterpart.
This facet of the 27-year-old’s play is particularly good news for United, considering their need for a central player capable of not only playmaking or putting in the more defensive effort, but more a combination of the two aspects.
Modric can certainly profess to the first part of that couplet, too, after creating 56 scoring chances for Real last season—second only to Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo among his team and more than Fabregas could muster.
One area in which Barcelona’s middleman does come out on top against Modric is in terms of his worth as a goal threat. However, this is a simple result of formational differences between the Spanish giants as opposed to a sign of talent.
While Barcelona’s attack is often hard to define and often sees midfielders filling in as leading attackers, the Real Madrid offence is far more structured in its approach, with Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria reigning as the primary men going forward.
As a result, while Modric might have only scored three goals compared to Fabregas’ 11, there’s no reason to think the former’s record might not improve if slotted into a system that required more of him in a scoring regard.
B/R's own Sam Tighe is another who believes that £25 million for Modric could work as a savvy deal for Manchester United:
Guardian say #MUFC looking at Modric. £25m would be an absolute steal— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) August 11, 2013
Just a year apart in age, there’s not much Fabregas holds over his former North London rival in resale value, either.
Right now, it remains unclear as to just how far United will pursue negotiations with Modric, but the Croat deserves just as much praise as the other men linked with a Red Devils move this summer.
Should he move back to the English top flight, Modric would undoubtedly maintain his high standards after flourishing under Jose Mourinho last term and shouldn’t be looked at as simply Moyes’ backup option.
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