Archive for the ‘Atletico Madrid’ Category

The end of era is well and truly upon the horizon of Old Trafford, Gary Neville has retired, Edwin Van Der Sar is retiring and Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are contemplating hanging up their boots. The four mentioned players have been the spine of the Red Devils success over recent years and Sir Alex Ferguson has acknowledged that he needs to make three signings in order to replace the departing players. Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, Atletico Madrid’s David De Gea and Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder are thought to be the three possible acquisitions, but should the United faithful be excited by these potential signings?

A Goalkeeper is Ferguson’s main priority this transfer window with second choice Tomasz Kuszczak signalling his intent on leaving and the jury is still out on Anders Lindegaard ability. David De Gea is now deemed to be Fergie’s number one target after losing out on Schalke 04 shot stopper Manuel Neuer. The heir to Iker Casillas number one spot for Spain, is highly rated within the world of football and is an exciting prospect for the United manager due to him only being 20 years of age, however youth is something of doubled edged sword for managers in football, especially when it comes to goalkeepers. It would very much be a case of ‘sink or swim’ for the current Atletico Madrid keeper and a club of Manchester United’s stature cannot afford for De Gea to sink. Although the future is bright for the Spaniard, Fergie would do well in securing his services but perhaps also look to bring in an experienced understudy, I’m not exactly sure who but if I did, I would probably be as successful as SAF.

We all know what an exciting and phenomenal talent Wesley Sneijder…was, this season has seen the Dutch play maker fail to live up to the heights of 2009/10 season but I suppose eclipsing being named UEFA midfielder of the year was always going to be hard. Despite not being as influential the former Ajax man is still a genuine talent and would offer Manchester United that extra dimension in their defence of the Premiership crown next season. Sneijder is quick, strong on the ball and has a impeccable passing accuracy and range, many of the attributes that Paul Scholes possess. The Red Devils must be licking their lips at the prospect of Sneijder donning the Manchester United colours next season.

Ashley Young has seen his value rocket this season after impressive performances for club and country, but would Fergie be overpaying for a classic media hyperbole player or would this investment in years to come be seen as one of the Scots greatest signings? There is no doubting the former Watford man can make the step-up (Watford to Villa and then Villa to England), so I doubt there is any cause for concern about whether the winger would struggle to make an impact at Old Trafford, the problem lies in where do you accommodate the England international? Luis Nani and Antonio Valencia have both been hugely impressive when they have played this season and Young is very much a similar style of player to the two players. There is obviously, room on the bench for Young but clearly this wont satisfy the current Villa player’s aspirations, however should SAF move for the England ace, the Red Devils faithful should be very excited indeed.

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No one knows who came first: the chicken or the egg? But one thing is certain; Peter Schmeichel came first, before a long list of keepers that finished with egg on their face after trying to replace the Great Dane. Eventually, Edwin Van Der Sar was the man to hold down the fort and was a perfect replacement. Like all good things though, they come to an end and so, with the Dutchman retiring at the end of the season, I’m having a look at the reported replacements.

1. Pepe Reina
Not one to upset the red half of Merseyside, but this move isn’t as unthinkable as it might seem to Liverpool fans. Reina’s fiercely competitive nature is evident throughout every form of his play and not only does he want to win trophies, he deserves to; he has been a consistent performer over the seasons for Liverpool and is arguably one of the greatest shot stoppers ever to grace the Premier League. Furthermore, with Fernando Torres’ turbulent exit from Anfield due to the conclusion that aspirations of silverware were best served by leaving Liverpool, Reina will no doubt be thinking about perhaps moving onto pastures new.

All is not lost for the Liverpool faithful yet, though, as there is under Kenny Dalglish a rapid revolution underway on Anfield Road. Liverpool’s recent resurgence is too late to mount a serious title challenge or even get in contention for a ‘top four’ berth. However, ‘King’ Kenny’s momentum is building and this may make the Spaniard consider holding tight for one more season with the promise of further investment in the next transfer window.

You have to remember that Reina is only 28 and in the peak of his career. Numerous goalkeepers still hit top form into their thirties, so if Reina doesn’t move this window it doesn’t mean that he won’t in the not-to-distant future. He could have a long and successful spell at Old Trafford. If he were to move, Reina would most definitely be ‘walking alone.’

2. David de Gea

If you can’t have Iker Casillas, then why not sign his heir to the throne of Spain’s number 1 custodian. David de Gea is at the forefront of the generation and purely in terms of talent has exactly what it takes to succeed in the Premier League, with the potential for further improvement. He could well excel for Man Utd, but youth is something of a double-edged sword.

Snapping up someone so young could have dream like conclusions, filling the space between the Man U sticks with someone possessing proven talent and experience for at least a decade. De Gea himself, though, is reported to have qualms about moving abroad at such a young age, which could see him stay on at Atletico Madrid for a couple more seasons to further his development. As well as this, and with all due respect to Atletico, much of the media attention is on Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga, whereas moving to Old Trafford would thrust the young Spaniard into the limelight. Being there and handling the spotlight are two different things all together.

3. Manuel Neuer
Neuer would be a great option for the Red Devils, but with reported interest from Bayern Munich coupled with his desire to win a Bundesliga, a switch to Old Trafford may be ‘off the cards’.

He has been highly rated throughout his fledgling career, but it is this season that has seen Neuer make a name for himself. Errors have fallen by the wayside and been replaced by commanding, assured and ‘safe’ performances by the German number one. At the age of 25 and with six seasons of first team football under his belt, his experience is vastly greater than anyone else his age, but it is his age that provides the problem for Sir Alex Ferguson. Neuer can stay in Germany to win his title and then in a couple of years discuss a move, as he will still be young for a goalkeeper. Ferguson, however, doesn’t have time.

4.Martin Stekelenburg

‘Double Dutch’ now means to me the comparison between Edwin Van Der Sar and Martin Steklenberg. Firstly you have the Dutch connection; as well as both tall in stature, technically good and physically robust. A like-for-like swap would be on the cards for Sir Alex and one that could very well materialise. The current first choice for the Oranje would take the move to Old Trafford in his stride.

5. Gianluigi Buffon

Buffon’s departure is a huge possibility this summer, with Juventus reportedly in major need of balancing the books. The world’s most expensive goalkeeper is now 33 and despite still being a class act, would Buffon’s transfer fee really help Juventus’ financial situation in such a deflated transfer market? All signs point to Buffon remaining at Juve, having already followed them down to Serie B a few years ago and being in the twilight of his career, wherein he will presumably want to just enjoy his football. On top of this, Sir Alex is ideally looking for a long term replacement, and with the Italian’s age and proneness to injury, is he really a long term replacement?

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