Well publicized comments coming out of America from United Chief Executive David Gill and manager Sir Alex Ferguson claim that both were insisting there may only be one more signing for the new season with the team mainly relying on the talent developed during the last few years. Reports have now surfaced however that United made an unsuccessful bid for Valencia striker David Villa in the last 24 hours, are pursuing Jack Rodwell from Everton and are ready to go head to head with Manchester City for Aston Villa’s James Milner.
These developments can do nothing more than illustrate the fact that when it comes to movements in an out of Old Trafford, it is going to be a long, long summer. They also serve as a warning that these stories can only be taken with a large chunk of salt!
The first report to appear stated that United had failed with an 11th hour bid to steal Villa from under the noses of Barcelona. The Spanish striker had completed a £35million move to the Catalan giants a few hours earlier with Valencia now confirming that an English club made a last ditch attempt to sign the 28 year old.
“We had a significant offer from England that was not Chelsea” said Valencia president Manuel Llorente “but Barcelona was best for both us and the player. Villa has given us a lot and he deserves this move, especially if you consider that he wanted to stay in Spain”
News then surfaced that United are ready to go to war with Everton over Jack Rodwell. Toffees boss David Moyes has issued a clear ‘not for sale’ sign over his young midfield star but United are determined to go ahead with a £15million bid. Ferguson was close to making a move for the player in the January transfer window, now he wants the 19 year old to strengthen his team who surrendered the title to Chelsea and went out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage.
Moyes is trying to convince the England Under 21 international that he is at the best place to develop, having come through the ranks of the Everton academy. The club are also looking to sign him on a new improved deal in a further attempt to keep him. That might still not be enough however if the player wants to move. Moyes said “Are we susceptible? Of course we are because people look at us and think that they can go to Everton and take our best players but as far as we are concerned, Jack will be here next season.
Another player thought to be on United’s hit list is Aston Villa’s South Africa bound James Milner with Sir Alex ready to do battle with Manchester City in a £25million tussle to land the England midfielder. Ferguson has identified Milner as the player to bring fresh impetus to his midfield and has been given the go ahead to make a strong bid. City also want Milner however and the two clubs are shaping up for a titanic summer transfer battle over one of the most sought after members of England’s World Cup squad.
Although Villa are reluctant to sell Milner it is understood that they recognise it will be virtually impossible to hold on to him this summer given the fierce competition to sign him. Milner, 24, enjoyed an impressive campaign with Villa last season scoring 12 goals after switching from his former wide position into a new found role in central midfield.
Fergie has long been an admirer of Milner from his early career at Leeds and sees him as the ideal candidate around whom to build his midfield for the next few years. Milner fits into United’s stated transfer policy of signing players under the age of 27 who they can develop and still benefit from resale value should they decide to sell.
Mindful that mega rich City would come out on top in a bidding war for Milner, United could include midfielder Michael Carrick in their proposed offer to Villa. Carrick has fallen out of favour with Ferguson in recent months and the £18m England midfielder could become a key part of any successful deal between United and Villa.
With Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs likely to be entering their last seasons and long term doubts over Owen Hargreaves, United need a new midfield force with Milner seen as the man. Veteran duo Giggs and Scholes were their top scorers from midfield last season with seven goals, an area Fergie knows needs improving if United are to reclaim the title from Chelsea.
United owners have given Fergie the green light to bid for Milner as well as a fresh attempt to land last summer’s failed target Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema. The international failed to make France’s World Cup squad after a miserable first season in Madrid and United are ready to test Real’s resolve to keep the 22 year old with a £20m bid.
Which of these targeted players will give United the best value for money?