So… Fellaini Then


marouane-fellaini-signsFirst of all, I’d just like to welcome Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United. We’ve been crying out for another quality midfielder for a good few years now and I like Fellaini and feel that he has the quality to fit right in with us.

At 25 he’s a good age and last season he scored more Premier League goals than all of our own midfielders combined.

However, this summer’s transfer business has left a lot to be desired from the top bods at Manchester United.

I spent most of yesterday glued to my Twitter account reading all kinds of speculation regarding at least three midfielders (including Fellaini).

At one point, it seemed certain that we had almost signed Herrera from Athletic Bilbao but I’m still not certain what happened with that – some reports are suggesting that hoaxers pretending to be United representatives were involved whilst others say that there was a last minute hitch which meant that a couple of i’s and t’s couldn’t be dotted and crossed.

Earlier in the day, I’d heard that Real Madrid were welcoming offers for Sami Khedira and that we’d offered them £40million which they subsequently rejected.

All in all, from an outsider’s point of view, it looked like a shambolic mess as the top brass at United thrashed around like amateurs with no clue who they were after, much less how to actually bring them in.

This summer was always likely to see us experience a disruption in the normal service with Moyes not starting until July but even that is now two whole months ago.

It seems clear to me that Moyes always wanted to bring Fellaini with him from Everton so why leave it until the very last minute of the transfer window to do so?

The only reason I can think of is that Fellaini was not his first choice (I suppose Fabregas was) but once it was clear that Fabregas wouldn’t be leaving Barcelona, we should have gone straight in for Fellaini while his buy-out clause was just £23million. As it turns out, we have had to pay £27.5million for him.

With Fallaini in the bag, perhaps Ed Woodward and co could have been a little more focused on any other targets that Moyes had identified?

Of course, the official line from the club will now be that Fellaini was the only player Moyes wanted this summer and the rest was all speculation but I suspect that the press will be doing their own digging in this regard and I also suspect that we won’t come out of it smelling of roses.

In the meantime, I’m just thankful that this awful transfer window has finally closed and now we can get back to what it’s all really about… actually playing football.

Guillermo Varela Becomes Moyes’ First Signing

United have announced that Uruguayan defender Guillermo Varela from Atletico Penarol has now signed and so becomes the first signing under the management of David Moyes.

Guillermo Varela

Guillermo Varela

The signing does seem to have a bit of Fergie influence about it though because he was invited to train with us towards the end of last season.

My own personal jury on South American players in the Premier League is still out. There have been a few hits but there have also been a few misses – and we have had our fair share of those.

This one does seem to be a strange signing, though. The lad is a right-back and Rafael would seem to be the future of that role – he’s just had a tremendous season – his best ever – and at just 22 years of age (he’s 23 next month) there seems to be a long future ahead of him.

I do hope to be proved wrong – I know absolutely nothing about the player – but this one looks like “cover” that will only be used when Rafael gets himself suspended again.

De Gea Signs for United

David de Gea

United have just confirmed the signing of Spain’s Under 21 goalkeeper, David de Gea (20), from Atletico Madrid on a five year deal. The fee is believed to be around £18million.

Following the disasters we experienced when trying to replace Schmeichel all those years ago, many United fans were concerned following Van der Sar’s recent retirement that we might see history repeat itself and it remains to be seen whether de Gea is the player to put everyone’s mind at rest but de Gea is widely considered to be the best young goalkeeper out there. Certainly, he appears to have been Fergie’s first choice despite rumours linking us with Manuel Neuer at one stage (people seemed to cool on that idea after we put four past him quite easily in our Champions League semi at Old Trafford though!)

The main concern about de Gea will probably be his inexperience. It is amazing to think that he is just half the age of the guy whose place he has just taken but I prefer to look at it this way – Edwin Van Der Sar was just twenty when he started playing for the great Ajax side of the early 90s, too and he came largely from nowhere, David has experience of playing against top sides following his stint at Atletico Madrid.

His performances in the recent European Under 21 tournament (which, of course, he and his Spanish teammates won) suggest that he’s got the composure and the temperament for the big occasion so here’s hoping he slots right in.

Welcome to United, David – all the best!

Phil Jones – First Confirmed Signing

Since my last post about Ashley Young potentially becoming our first signing of the close-season, I have been watching the situation closely and whilst it does appear that we will be getting Ashley Young, our first signing came as something slightly out of the blue as we have purchased Phil Jones from Blackburn on a five year deal. The fee is reported to be around £17million.

I have waited to post this because there was some confusion coming from Blackburn about whether or not United had triggered a buyout clause or simply a clause to start a bidding war and, by all accounts, Liverpool had submitted an offer that was in excess of our own. Rumours are also rife that Wenger wanted Jones for Arsenal so this does appear that we have stolen a march on a couple of our rivals here.

I say slightly out of the blue because there was the odd rumour going around towards the end of last year but, as a United supporter, you get used to these rumours and 99% of them result in nothing.

I must admit though that with Rio, Vidic, Evans and Smalling, I thought the defense was in pretty good shape and so the signing of another defender came as something of a surprise.

However, Phil Jones has shown that he isn’t just another defender, he is a strong, solid defender who reminds me a lot of (dare I say it?)  John Terry – like or loathe him, you have to admit that Terry is a decent defender!

The fee is substantial though and, given that he has been a regular for Blackburn, you have to believe that he hasn’t just been bought to sit on the sidelines. One thing is for certain, though – Fergie hasn’t made too many mistakes when it comes to signing defenders. That bald bloke from France (Prunier?) being the only one that springs to mind off the top of my head.

I watched a bit of the England Under 21 match against Spain U21 last night and Smalling and Jones were the central defensive partnership for England which always bodes well. It is going to be interesting to watch England’s progress in this Euro U21 tournament for that reason alone. You never know – this could be the United and England defensive partnership for years to come!

In any case, I’d like to welcome Jones to United. Apparently he told Blackburn that the only club he wanted to sign for was Manchester United (despite Liverpool’s larger offer) and that will do for me.

Ashley Young: A Done Deal?

I’m always wary of writing about transfer speculation because if I wrote about every player we’re linked with each summer then I would probably find myself writing ten articles a day, most of which would prove to be complete tosh by the times the new season kicks off in August.

However, one that does seem to be reaching levels of intensity within the press (several sources) that suggest that this is more than simply a journalist with a column to fill and it is the transfer of Ashley Young from Aston Villa.

This one perhaps has more credibility than most for several reasons.

1) He is English and a core of English players within the squad is not only desirable, it is essential to stay within the rules and Young is one of the best English players around at the moment.

2) He is currently playing at a team who grossly underachieved last season and are currently in a transitional period having recently lost their manager. At age 25, Young probably feels like his peak years are just before him and would no doubt welcome a move to a team that can offer him top level football. He has been at Villa for over four years now and probably feels that he has given them good value for their money.

3) His contract at Villa has just one year left to run. The time to either sign a new one or move elsewhere is now.

I must admit, I am intrigued about the possible arrival of Young. He can play on either wing, has pace to burn and can chip in with the odd goal here and there. His goal for England over the weekend was exceptionally well taken and that only made me feel better that he might be on his way to us.

If reports are to be believed then Young will be signed soon. Very soon. Possibly within the next day or two. Watch this space.

United Sign van Velzen?

Reports are leaking out that we have signed a 16 year old Dutch wonderkid called Gyliano van Velzen from Ajax who will join up with our Academy imminently.

I can’t confirm that the rumours are true at this stage and I don’t know very much about him at all but he is being described already as a left-footed Ronaldo.

The video below gives a glimpse of him and as you will see, he’s a tall lad and thoroughly left-footed but quick, strong and tricky.

It must also be added that this video is two years old and so he’ll be playing against 14 year olds there! Hopefully there’s some truth to the rumour and we’ll be able to see him playing for the Academy very soon though.

United Sign Striker Bebe

I Got You Bebe...

United have agreed a deal for 20 year old Portuguese striker Tiago Manuel Dias Correia (thankfully known as “Bebe”).

Although the official United website does not mention a fee, the Guardian are quoting £7.4million.

I must admit, I really know nothing about this lad and this transfer has come as something of a shock to me. Of all the positions we perhaps need a bit of cover for, I would have thought we’re more than well stocked in the striker department now, especially with the arrival of Hernandez (who scored for Mexico tonight, by the way!).

I can only assume that he is one of those “hot properties” such as Anderson and Nani who are expected to become big and if we don’t sign him now, we could be looking at double or even treble the fee in the not-so-distant future.

The question is, of course, where will he play? Most of us United fans are already trying to suss out how Fergie will get the most of the five recognised strikers we already have at the club (Rooney, Berby, Owen, Kiko and Chicharito).

I’m sure more details will follow over the next few days and perhaps a loan back to selling club, Vitoria de Guimaraes, is not totally out of the question?

United Sign Little Pea

Javier Hernández - Chicharito!

United have just announced the signing of 21 year old Mexican, Javier Hernández Balcazar, whose nickname is Chicharito which I am reliably informed means “Little Pea”.

I’m not sure why he’s called Little Pea but it could be down to the fact that at just over 5′ 9″, he isn’t exactly the tallest player in the world.

I must admit, I don’t know much more about him other than that but his goalscoring record looks decent enough.

I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of him during our pre-season friendlies and it’s going to be interesting to see how he gets on.

The injury to Rooney recently has shown just how threadbare we are with attacking options. The Michael Owen “gamble” hasn’t really paid off. As a free signing, it was worth a punt but we have been crying out for a quality, young striker who is not “one for the future” but has what it takes right now.

Hernandez might just be the one we’ve been looking for… here’s hoping…

The video below shows some of his goals… he does look good!

Smalling Joins United

Chris Smalling

Details are a little sketchy at the moment but I understand that Fulham defender Chris Smalling has signed for United but will not officially come on board until the 2010/11 Season.

Presumably, this means that he continues to play for Fulham in the meantime in some sort of loan arrangement so that he can get some more experience under his belt before joining us (although some mischievous people are suggesting that we don’t actually have the money at this present moment and will only be able to purchase him properly when we get the money from the sale of Vidic!)

On paper, we look to have a decent set of defenders already at the club but this season in particular has highlighted just how easily Fergie can find himself scraping the bottom of the barrel. Even last season, Fergie found himself forced into juggling the defensive line-up almost game after game at one point.

Rio’s long-term fitness remains a doubt as the injuries seem to becoming more and more frequent in recent years and the rumours of Vidic’s departure just won’t go away.

This looks a canny purchase by Fergie (details of the fee have yet to be released, however) and it could be that with Smalling and Evans, we have a defensive partnership to step into Rio and Vida’ shoes when the time comes and take us forward for many years to come… fingers crossed.