Transfer market mayhem casts doubts over Man Utd’s season chances
In a summer transfer window that saw the calendar year’s expenditure on new acquisitions reach over £1bn for the first time ever in the Premier League, Manchester United were outspent only by their close rivals Manchester City.
Although, despite Louis van Gaal making a blistering start in the summer market this year, capturing the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay early on, dealings ended somewhat confoundedly.
Matteo Darmian was the other fresh face to arrive on time to take part in pre-season and oversee the beginning of the new campaign, in which United are 14/1 with Coral to lift the Premier League title. Though, towards the end of the Red Devils’ market activity, and especially on Deadline Day, proceedings left the Old Trafford faithful a little bewildered as to what approach Van Gaal is taking.
The key talking point was obviously the shambolic David de Gea situation, as the Spaniard saw his apparent dream move to Real Madrid scuppered in the final minutes of the La Liga transfer deadline.
Both clubs involved have become involved in a childish war of words, or statements rather, with United delivering an 11 bullet-point summary slating Real’s incompetence in the dealings, after Madrid had released 10 of their own argued points.
Whether it was simply an unfortunate piece of miscommunication, or an intentional ploy by United’s hierarchy at the death, Van Gaal will have De Gea at his disposal at least until January, but will the demanding Dutchman cast aside his earlier treatment of the Spanish stopper?
With Anders Lindegaard departing for West Bromwich Albion, Victor Valdes seemingly desperate to repair relations with the United boss and Sergio Romero suffering a recent maiden mishap, there should be a clear path back between the Old Trafford sticks for the previously outcast De Gea.
Voted the club’s player of the season for the last two consecutive campaigns, it would be seen as a foolish move to let such a talent rot on the sideline or in the reserves, but Van Gaal is as unpredictable as they come.
Comments surfaced from the De Gea camp that the Spaniard would fight for his place at Old Trafford, after international duty is finished, a welcomed attitude if true, considering the recent high-profiled behaviour of one Saido Berahino in the West Midlands.
With Euro 2016 taking place next year, De Gea can’t afford to spend six months sulking before being granted his wanted switch to the Bernabeu in January, or possibly the following summer, as Spain seek international redemption in France (6/1 to triumph).
De Gea wasn’t the only surprising saga on Deadline Day, with United opting to lure in Monaco’s 19-year-old prodigy Anthony Martial for a reported £36m, making him the most expensive teenager in history, 11 years on from when his new skipper Wayne Rooney held that daunting tag.
With Adnan Januzaj being shipped out to Borussia Dortmund on loan, while Robin van Persie, Radamel Falcao, Luis Nani and Javier Hernandez all departed permanently, many expected Van Gaal to secure a world class attacking replacement.
Instead, young Martial arrived with no more than a big reputation in France to go by, with the teenage striker now set to accompany Rooney, Marouane Fellaini and James Wilson as the club’s main forward options this term.
Such a heavy burden, along with such a mammoth price-tag, could ultimately prove too much for the France international call-up, as he and deadly Dutchman Memphis become the new young guns at Old Trafford this campaign. Also worth a mention is 17-year-old Welsh defender Reagan Poole, who arrived at United from Newport County on Deadline Day, though will be a more regular feature for the youth set-up and one for the future.
Van Gaal has spoken of retirement in 2017 but, having rebuilt United’s squad completely, it remains unclear whether he has instantly boosted his chances of silverware success this season, or instead laid a healthy foundation down for his future successor to inherit.