Just like most kite flying rumours of players coming into Old Trafford can be safely ignored, gossip about who Sir Alex Ferguson is about to sell should also be dismissed at least until an official statement is issued by the club. It does not mean that rumours cannot be noted however because where there’s smoke there can sometimes be a fire. Stories published over the weekend suggest that two key defenders and a promising young striker could find themselves wearing new colours by the time the new season kicks off.
Danny Welbeck – the 19 year old striker is currently in the US on United’s pre season tour but that has not stopped a report stating that Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has succeeded in obtaining an agreement from Ferguson to allow the England Under 21 international to move on a 12 month loan deal. Bruce is understood to have fought off fierce competition from a number of clubs for the hitman who scored in the 3-1 friendly win against Celtic in Canada last week.
The Sunderland boss is understood to have wanted Welback on a permanent basis but Ferguson has no intention of losing one of his most promising youngsters. Bruce’s assistant Eric Black said that “The manager has stated that Welback is somebody he would certainly like to have in the squad but Manchester United are in the States at the moment for another couple of weeks so I don’t imagine it will happen in the next week or two.”
Comment – This does not appear to be a bad move for Welbeck, United and Sunderland. With a number of strikers available for Ferguson next season, the youngster’s chances of getting a lot of game time at Old Trafford will be limited. If he can get a few Premier League appearances under his belt, Welback will have an opportunity to show Sir Alex what he’s capable of doing at the top level while Sunderland will have the services of a promising young player at it’s disposal. It promises to be a win-win-win move for all concerned.
Nemanja Vidic – Speculation about his departure has been around for months and despite his denials, the Serbia strongman may soon be on the move. According to the Manchester Evening News “United are ready to bite the bullet and cash in on Nemanja Vidic. Real Madrid have been stepping up the chase for the Reds’ popular Serbian defender since he returned from the World Cup.”
The report goes on to say that “Ominously for United, Vidic’s team of advisers have suddenly gone tight lipped over his future. Before the World Cup, his agent Paolo Fabbri said “We’re waiting for Nemanja to tell us what he wants to do. We are waiting as it’s up to him.” Now, members of Vidic’s camp have been ordered not to make any comment. The expectation is for a statement will be released soon.
Comment – With central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand’s long term fitness under a cloud and new signing Chris Smalling still needing to prove himself, Ferguson will be hesitant to let Vidic go despite an opportunity to get the optimum return on the £7m capture he made in 2006. A minimum £15m to £20m price tag is not unrealistic for the 2009 Manchester United Player of the Year. Sir Alex will be mindful of the horror run he had with defensive injuries last season which could have cost a fourth successive title so don’t be surprised if he resists the temptation to accept any offers from the likes of Real Madrid and insist on Vidic remaining at the club for at least one more year.
Patrice Evra – Must be the most unlikely Old Trafford departure. Ferdinand’s absence through injury should open the door for Evra to be given the captaincy but there is now a likelihood that the Frenchman could be tempted by the interest shown in him by Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid. Chelsea’s Ashley Cole remains his first choice, but Mourinho fears that his previous club will price the left back out of his reach and will turn to Evra if a £20million bid for Cole is turned down
The former Chelsea boss has been encouraged to learn that the France left back has already put his Cheshire luxurious home up for sale. The mansion was put on the market last week and a bunch of Manchester millionaire footballers are already fighting over the property. Evra is aware of Real’s interest, but United do not have an established replacement lined up at left back.
Comment – A gruelling 60 match season followed by the France debacle in South Africa must have left Evra mentally exhausted and in dire need of his month long break from football. It’s never wise to assume what’s going on in Ferguson’s mind but with the question marks surrounding Vidic and the ongoing doubts about Ferdinand’s long term fitness, it’s hard to see Sir Alex giving his blessing for Evra’s departure. Despite the persistent attempts by Mourinho, the most likely outcome will be for Evra to remain at Old Trafford for at least another season.
This is all speculation of course, what at best may be called educated guesses but if it all pans out as suggested, United could be facing an exodus of mammoth proportions at the end of next season. Just imagine a scenario where Vidic, Evra, van der Sar, Giggs, Scholes, Neville and Owen are all exiting Old Trafford at the same time…with possibly Sir Alex joining them!
Do you expect any key players to leave Old Trafford before the big kick off?