Grading Manchester United's Transfer Window Signings
Manchester United have had a remarkable transfer window but how do the new arrivals stack up?
With a combination of established talent of the very highest quality, young up-and-coming stars and improvements in nearly every area of the pitch, the window overall would receive a good grade.
Perhaps not the A+ that would have been received if United had signed a dominant centre-back and a midfield general but a good solid A-.
Let’s take a look at each signing’s contribution to that overall grade.
Assuming the paperwork is cleared up and Marcos Rojo is free to contribute to the season, the young man will have a lot to prove. Like Daley Blind, Rojo signs fresh from an excellent World Cup, but his acquisition has come at considerably more expense than Blind’s.
Able to play at centre-back, wing-back or left-back, Rojo will certainly offer options in Van Gaal’s system, but it is not yet clear if he represents an upgrade on existing first-choice options. There will be plenty of opportunity for him to prove his signing was worthy of a much higher grade than this.
Last season’s Eredivisie player of the season, fresh from an excellent World Cup, able to play in multiple positions and signed for a very reasonable £14 million, per ManUtd.com. Blind might have seen his arrival overshadowed by Radamel Falcao’s signing, but his addition will benefit the squad.
There is perhaps a doubt to be raised about whether he was Van Gaal’s first choice, given that the transfer was done so late and appeared to be relatively hassle free.
There is also some doubt about his lack of pace, however, his range of passing and versatility should make up for that. For the price he was signed for, no one can complain about his arrival.
Luke Shaw has been signed at tremendous expense, an initial £27 million, per BBC Sport. That expense will be worthwhile if he lives up to his maximum potential and becomes United’s first-choice left-back for a decade or perhaps even more.
There is every chance that will happen. Shaw’s talent is not in question, and he is already proven as a Premier League defender, having been one of Southampton’s best players last season.
Any fee of that size for a player of his age is a risk, and it is that aspect of risk which prevents a higher grade. It is entirely possible one will turn out to have been deserved.
Ander Herrera is a very fine midfielder. That alone should be enough to earn him a high grade at Manchester United, given what a novelty that seems to United fans.
He has a fine range of passing, dribbles well and is a committed competitor, who is, as the expression goes, fond of a tackle. There may be some suggestion that his best position is behind the strikers, and he has been bought to play deeper.
It is not yet clear if he can become the leader United badly need in the middle of the park. However, he is a huge upgrade on the options previously available to United, and he could become a real crowd favourite if he adds more goals to his already excellent all-round game.
Falcao is a signing with very slightly more ambivalence than Angel Di Maria’s, albeit it is still an incredibly exciting one.
Essentially the two questions which need to be answered are; will his long absence through injury have a lasting negative impact on his performances and how will his arrival affect the players already at United? Both questions will only be answered given time. Falcao is certainly a huge addition of quality.
There may be justifiable accusations of United strengthening in an area in which they are already strong. However, Falcao does offer something neither of United’s star centre-forwards are currently providing much of, and that is dynamism.
If his knee can stand the rigours of a season in the Premier League, then this grade will need be revised upward. If Falcao plays at his very best, there is simply not a grade on offer high enough.
Angel Di Maria
A pros and cons list for the arrival of Angel Di Maria would be heavily lopsided. Other than "was very expensive," the cons list would be blank.
Di Maria is a perfect addition to United. A sprinkling of stardust with enormous work-rate, a dash of derring-do and a bag of tracks, all wrapped up in a player who can play in central midfield and on the wing.
United have been sorely lacking in those areas. Di Maria will make a huge difference.
There can be no doubt about Di Maria’s grade. He is proven at the very highest level, and the idea that he was some kind of panic buy is laughable given he plays in two of the positions that United have most lacked for quality. Di Maria is a truly remarkable acquisition and thoroughly deserves his maximum grade.