Manchester United's transfer move for Sporting Lisbon defender Marcos Rojo has hit a major legal speed bump, and the Red Devils should proceed with caution and cut their losses if necessary.
The Argentine international, who reportedly handed in a transfer request and is set on a move to Manchester, is trapped in a legal battle between current club Sporting and management company Doyen Sports, which owns 75 percent of the player's rights.
As reported by Sky Sports, Sporting are holding out for a bigger transfer fee because they will be the recipients of just 25 percent of the £16 million offer, with an additional 20 percent going to Spartak Moscow, his former club.
Doyen claim they are entitled to a payment of 75 percent of any offer declined for their player, making the situation even more complicated. A statement from the management company, via Sky Sports, reads:
Sporting is entirely within its rights not to transfer the player Marcos Rojo, knowing that it only has to make up for the fund under the terms and deadlines as contractually established since the beginning.
[The company] will not hesitate to use all legal resources at our disposal to defend fully all our interests and rights. Without the intervention of Doyen, through financing, Marcos Rojo would not be a Sporting player.
To sum up the situation: Sporting believe they would not benefit enough from a sale and claim they have "just cause" to terminate their business with Doyen; Doyen believe Sporting now owe them £12 million for declining United's offer, a sum far greater than what Sporting would have received in a transfer in the first place.
The saga has the look of a legal minefield, and one that won't be solved any time soon (although it is fair to assume Rojo and his management company will want to resolve this matter before the end of the transfer window).
These things sometimes happen, particularly when third-party ownership is involved. Some players are worth the headache. Rojo is not.
The 24-year-old centre-back is a strong, physical defender with solid athleticism and decent vision. He's a good player who would fit nicely in the Premier League. But this is Manchester United we're talking about.
The Red Devils don't bend over backwards for good players, particularly when there are better options available on the market. Spanish football insider Sergi Dominguez agrees:
Marcos Rojo is a player that would fit in nicely in van Gaal's 3-5-2, but a club like Man United must aim higher. Blind a step up.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) August 14, 2014
Rojo has some hype because he looked solid during the 2014 World Cup and was able to take advantage of a down year in the Portuguese league, one that saw perennial contenders Porto put together their worst season in recent history.
He also did this at the World Cup, via Squawka, and as spectacular as it looked, I have a hard time believing Louis van Gaal could ever put all his faith in a centre-back who would take such a massive risk:
Roma's Mehdi Benatia is the closest thing to a world-class defender reportedly available, and him telling fans at training to "relax" and that he's "staying put" won't do anything to change that, as reported by ESPN FC.
Is Rojo worth the headache?
That's not to say United should end their interest in Rojo—but there's no point investing too much time and effort in a player who realistically isn't of the standard people associate with the Red Devils.
Sporting want £24 million, per Sky Sports, and the Argentine simply isn't worth that much. And with a potential transfer blocked by legal disputes between club and player, now would be the time for Van Gaal and Company to raise their hands and tell both parties to "figure it out."
United are too big a club to get involved in this, and with the Premier League season just around the corner, now would be the time to start looking elsewhere for reinforcements.