With the flurry of exotic names and equally bemusing price tags being touted around, quite like wares at a local weekend market, it is quite easy to lose track of some relatively less pricey transfer targets. However, at a club like Manchester United, with Sir Alex at the helm, and the financial situation being what it is, hidden gems have always been unearthed. Here’s a look at some such value propositions who might find their way to Old Trafford this year.
1. Robert Lewandowski - £20 million
One of the popular names that has been floating around, Lewandowski can be viewed as a younger, faster, more energetic version of Dimitar Berbatov. Ever since (former) Poland national manager Franciszek Smuda announced to the press that his star striker was “going to Manchester United”, there has been heightened anticipation, and more importantly, thinly veiled intent from the striker himself. While Borussia Dortmund’s President, Reinhard Rauball, has been quick to slap a £40 million price tag on his star striker, interest from the player’s side could see the transfer happen for a much more reasonable price. With a total of 30 goals last season, and the Bundesliga‘s Player-of-the-Season honour in his pocket, Lewandowski would definitely add great value to Fergie’s side.
2. Leighton Baines - £15 million
The second and last popular target on this list, Everton‘s left back seems quite likely to join Manchester United this summer. With Fabio out on loan, and Patrice Evra repeatedly neglecting his defensive duties last season (albeit he recovered slightly toward the end), the Old Trafford faithful will be reassured with the presence of a proven, quality left-back in the squad. Having been called up to the English squad for Euro ’12, Leighton Baines will be hungry for more football at the highest level. In addition to assured performances at the back, Baines is known for his accurate crossing and superb free kicks, which will definitely be welcome additions. However, a manager as shrewd as David Moyes might just convince him to stay with the Toffees for one more season.
3. Yohan Cabaye - £8 million
French international, and star performer at this year’s Euro Championship, Yohan Cabaye is a box-to-box midfielder who has ticks against his name in all the departments that United are looking for. He is hard working, possesses immaculate passing skills, has a calm head while on the ball, breaks up opposition play, and scores goals with proficiency. The only stumbling block might be the upgraded contract that Newcastle United are offering him, which he seems to have no real qualms with. However, the prospect of teammate Demba Ba leaving the club, and an opportunity to play in the Champions League might just be enough to convince Cabaye to join United.
4. Demba Ba - £12 million
Coming from relative obscurity, in spite of having been at West Ham United, and signed by Newcastle in spite of his medical record, Demba set the first half of the Premier league alight with his clinical finishing. Scoring with alarming regularity, and competing with the likes of in-form Van Persie and Wayne Rooney for the Golden Boot, the Senegalese striker was quickly touted as a transfer target for several ‘big’ clubs in the January transfer window. While Ba stayed, he was joined by fellow Senegal striker, Papiss Cisse who quickly took over the scoring mantle for the Toons. This saw Demba Ba being pushed out wide; a role which he doesn’t quite relish. Thus, it is that Ba is reluctant to sign a new contract at Newcastle now, and is said to be looking for a move away. With his ability to score with his head, where better to employ his skills than at United?
5. Nuri Sahin - £12 million
Another bright talent to have been brought through at Borussia Dortmund, Nuri Sahin is one of the world’s most sought-after young talents. Last summer, he made a move (rather foolishly in my opinion), to Real Madrid, a club whose central midfield boasts of Xabi Alonso, Kaka, Sami Khedira, Fernando Gago and Mesut Ozil. In addition, he sustained an injury which saw him out of contention for considerable periods last season. With considerable options at hand, Mourinho is said to be willing to offload Sahin, recently offering him to Tottenham as a portion of the transfer fee for Luka Modric. It is only Sahin’s reluctance to join the Spurs that is said to have scuppered the deal. But a chance to join the newly emerging squad at United, and the prospect of regular first team football might just convince the Turkish midfielder on making a move to England.
These are just some of the players with justifiable price tags available right now. Any additions that you would suggest?