Pre-season is notable for two things; new football kit launches and wild transfer rumours. While the new Manchester United football kit arrived earlier this month there seems to be more rumours every day as new boss David Moyes settles in to his role. But who will become his first big signing?
It will be a bizarre experience for Manchester United fans to see the dugout without Sir Alex Ferguson and there is a huge amount of uncertainty as David Moyes takes his place with the spectre of the most prominent football manager of his era leaning over him.
Moyes will be keen to make his own mark on the club and quickly turn Sir Alex’s empire into his own own and he find it difficult to resist the riches on offer after the frugality employed at Goodison Park during his 11-year tenure. But does this mean he will splash tens of millions on ex-Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas?
On paper it seems like a match made in heaven. Moyes is traditionally sluggish in the transfer market and takes some convincing a player is worth spending a transfer budget on. At Everton the talents of Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta were both required to prove their worth with an initial loan move before Moyes took the plunge and paid around £3m each.
The same tactic allowed him to avoid wasting wage budget on the supremely talented but troublesome Royston Drenthe and the physical but limited Denis Stracqualursi in recent years. Moyes has showed his caution in the past and will do so again at United.
Moyes’ caution means Fabregas is the perfect choice as a midfield target. While the likes of Wesley Sneijder will come at a lower price Fabregas has proven he can stand up to the rigours of the Premiership. Ever since arrive as an astonishingly composed 17-year-old at Arsenal Fabregas has proved he can pass, cover the midfield ground and show exceptional leadership ability. It is exactly the sort of player Moyes loves and the perfect addition to a United midfield lacking that extra spark of quality.
Not only will Fabregas improve the squad it will send a message out to Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal that it can attract the best players regardless of club loyalty – a sure sign Fergie may be gone but United’s power lives on.
However, convincing Fabregas to join will be problematic. Contrary to popular opinion he has been an integral figure for the club he loves this season with 32 league appearances, eight Champions League games and 14 goals in all competitions. It is hardly the record of the bit-part player. He has professed his desire to remain at the club and United will face a struggle to convince him otherwise.
If Fabregas cannot be convinced perhaps Moyes will look to his understudy at Barcelona, Spaniard Thiago Alcantara. The Scot is not averse to buying younger players to develop – Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley were brought through last season to great effect at Everton.
Thiago would be a superb signing for United. He is a creative force with sharp passing and attack-minded philosophy in the mould of a young Paul Scholes. He is regarded as a special player at Barcelona and his £18m release clause reflects this. One for the future, he would benefit from the experience of Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick in the midfield and would help Moyes mould a team for the next ten years.