Manchester United are finally ready to act on their interest in Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal after capturing Angel Di Maria, according to reports.
The Chilean midfielder has been touted for a move to the Red Devils throughout the summer with little progress appearing to be made. Both Miguel Delaney of ESPN FC and Ian Herbert of The Independent suggest United are now looking to make their move.
However, the latter believes Vidal's knee problems ensure the Old Trafford club will only offer limited terms:
The substantial concerns about the injury could feasibly lead United to seek a highly incentivised appearance-based contract of the type Michael Owen signed when joining United in 2011. It seems unlikely that United would be willing to pay anywhere near the €40m (£31.8m) asking price for a player who represents such a physical risk.
Will Arturo Vidal sign for Manchester United during this transfer window?
Vidal's game possesses everything United's bumbling midfield needs. He is a smart passer, tackles hard, bursts from box-to-box and is capable of scoring goals. The performances of Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley against Sunderland underlined what many supporters had feared: The club's strength in depth is non-existent, while both of these individuals don't have the quality to withstand a season in the first team.
Fletcher's mobility has undoubtedly suffered under the pitfalls of age and his chronic bowel disease, meaning he cannot be relied upon for the entire campaign. Both he and Cleverley offered nothing more than a first-gear performance at the Stadium of Light, where United craved an explosion of pace and confidence through the centre. Although Di Maria could provide this, a midfield specialist of Vidal's ilk is needed.
Louis van Gaal knows this. Speaking after United's 1-1 draw with the Black Cats, Van Gaal acknowledged he won't talk about Di Maria's move until all is completed, but he then name-dropped Vidal as a player he likes, per Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News.
I cannot say anything about transfers and you have to understand that. When a transfer is finished, then we say anything. But now you have to wait and see. If the moment is there Manchester United shall announce it. But it is not only Di Maria. Maybe Vidal or (Lionel) Messi. We are a big club.
Van Gaal name-checked Di Maria shortly before United entered negotiations for the player, per Sky Sports.
The club is extremely unlikely to ever sign Lionel Messi, so Vidal's mention is curious to say the least. Either the Dutchman believes his transfer is as unlikely as Leo's, or he's telling Ed Woodward and the United board what he needs in public to stop any criticism if Vidal doesn't show.
While Herbert's report suggests United are looking to pay a minimum fee for the midfielder—or at least cover their backs with his injury history in mind—B/R UK's Sam Tighe believes United have set a precedent for themselves with Di Maria's lofty price:
Quick one on Vidal: if #mufc have paid that much for ADM, Vidal is worth the same or in excess. Juventus should start at £65m— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) August 25, 2014
It's fair to say some quick decisions need to be made at the Theatre of Dreams. United have the money to continue improving their squad, but Vidal remains a risk if he isn't 100 percent fit. Other affordable players—such as Sami Khedira, Enzo Perez and Nigel De Jong—could all fill United's defensive midfield needs if Vidal isn't going to happen.
A lack of action in this area will be greeted with major frustration from fans, even if Di Maria proves to be a success. The team's shortcomings are being further highlighted with each match and have needed addressing since before Sir Alex Ferguson left.
Vidal's capture could be symbolic for the side's next era and Van Gaal's tenure. Now that the manager has let everyone know he understands this, progress is more likely to be made.