In the first of a five part feature for TheFaithfulMUFC; Kevin Levingston takes a look at some potential transfer targets for the club this summer. First up is the right-back position.
With just a few short days to go until the transfer window opens it’s set to be another summer of upheaval at Old Trafford. In a season that was something of a mixed bag for United; Louis Van Gaal ultimately achieved his aim of finishing fourth and securing Champions League football once more. It has been an erratic season that delivered a variety of high and low points and whilst the Dutchman has just about broken even in terms of expectation; significant improvements in performance level will be required if the club is to kick on as desired next season. An already threadbare squad will likely see more departures during the window, making new arrivals a necessity if the team is to negotiate the increased number of games next season. Aside from the issue of squad depth, there are a number of key positions that need strengthening within the first team itself.
This is certainly the case for our right-back position. Converted right-winger Antonio Valencia is never found wanting for effort but is often found lacking in ability. Despite his willingness to put a shift in; the Ecuadorian is not a right-back. If anything, his presence points more to a lack of faith in Rafael than any real confidence in Valencia. It is inevitable that a new right-back joins the club this summer. Below are a number of candidates that could fit the bill.
Perhaps the obvious candidate given his contract standoff with current club Barcelona. At the end of the 2013-14 season the Catalan club were prepared to let the Brazilian wing-back’s contract expire due to mixed form and the belief that his best years were behind him. Fast forward a year, insert a transfer ban and Alves’ return to supreme form and Barcelona no longer want their long time servant to leave. The player is less than happy with the club, claiming that he feels “undervalued” and has been in no rush to sign a new contract. The feeling is that a departure is almost certain; though the player has refused to give any indication, citing a desire to focus on the final few games of Barcelona’s season.
Stylistically speaking, Alves is a right-back by the loosest definition of the term, quite often spending the majority of his time in the opposition half; his attacking prowess being a marker of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in particular. The Brazilian would be a substantial upgrade on United’s current right-back options, though he will need to adapt his game to suit this United team. Positives include his experience at the pinnacle of the European Game and the fact that he would not require a transfer fee. Negatives include high wage demands and the short term nature of any possible deal. There seems to be a definite interest on United’s part. They could do a lot worse.
Suitability: More attacker than defender but a fantastic player.
Fee: Free Transfer.
Dani Carvajal has been a stalwart on the right side of the Madrid defence since his return to the club in 2013; making 87 appearances in just two seasons for Los Blancos. The rampaging right back – a Madrid academy graduate – has made the position his own since his introduction to the first team; showing himself to be a more attacking option than Alvaro Arbeloa. That is not to suggest the twenty-three year old is unable to defend; in fact Carvajal has a very well rounded game for a player that is still developing. He is every inch the modern day right-back. It all points to a very successful future in the game. Despite his impressive performances, Madrid have recently purchased Danilo Da Silva from Porto with the intent of making him a part of their first team next season. This raises questions over the future of Carvajal. Even if the player himself wishes to stay and fight for his position, Real Madrid may yet make him available for transfer.
The positives in this deal are obvious. The player is young, has experience at the top of the European game and will only improve as he reaches his peak years. He could make the right-back position his own at United for the next ten years. He is already laughably better than anything United currently have. However his departure from Los Meirengues is far from certain. It would still take a sizeable transfer fee to bring this player to Manchester.
Suitability: A perfect match for United.
Seamus Coleman was a revelation in the 2013-14 season; scoring an impressive six goals from right back for a free-flowing Everton side and firmly establishing himself as the premier league’s best attacking right back. This season the Donegal man’s performances have dropped along with his teams’ and he’s not been quite as impressive. Despite this drop in level the Irishman could still be a very good signing for a Champions League club. Should Van Gaal prefer to look closer to home for a new right-back; Coleman is definitely worth taking a look at.
Often playing more like an inside forward than a full-back; Coleman is very comfortable on the ball, calling on a range of passes, crosses and shots that many attackers would be proud of. His ability to make timely runs from deep and cut into the opposition area, however, remains his biggest strength, not to mention his explosive pace. He’s no fool defensively, either. If he can recapture his form from a season ago he could be a valuable asset for this United side and is, again, quite an upgrade on United’s current options.
Suitability: Not an obvious choice, but could be a solid signing.
Probably the most talented fullback in Europe not currently turning out for a Champions League club; Matteo Darmian is a star on the rise. Having joined Torino while they were in Serie B, Darmian progressed in the same manner as his club, gradually establishing himself in Serie A and going from strength to strength. His efforts and impressive performances were rewarded by a place in the Italy squad for the 2014 World Cup; turning out in all three of the Azzuri’s games and being one of the few to emerge from their disappointing tournament with any credit. The 2014-15 season has been a poor one for Torino and now it’s expected that Darmian will seek richer pastures this summer. A move to a top European club is almost certain. Whilst a move to Juventus or Roma is more likely, there is talk of interest from United and Arsenal also.
Darmian is a superb stopper on the right side of defence who fulfils his more pragmatic duties with enthusiasm and ease. He is also more than capable of contributing in attack, though he will look to improve his crossing and create more chances in future. At the age of twenty-five Darmian is approaching his peak and any suitors for his signature will be confident they are securing a player for his best years.
Suitability: Prodigiously talented. A world class player in waiting.
Fee: At least £25million, with a number of clubs interested and driving up the price.
For a long time it looked certain that Nathaniel Clyne would join United. Despite the club seemingly now pursuing alternative targets, they could still return to Clyne should they fail to secure players elsewhere. Certainly the most achievable target on this list, it remains to be seen whether United feel he can do a job at Old Trafford. Noises emanating from Southampton have changed considerably in recent weeks with talk of a departure making way for talk of a new contract being signed.
Clyne has been a key player for Southampton since their promotion to the premier league three years ago and has been linked with a move to a bigger club for some time. He is still quite young and he’s English, which would help with home-grown quotas, though there are still question marks over whether he can cut it at the highest level of the game. In that regard a move for Clyne would be a substantial risk, though he remains perhaps the most realistic target on this list.
Suitability: Talented, but with much room to improve. A risk.
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