Sir Alex Ferguson has been harping on about there being no value in the current market. Granted, with the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester City chucking money away there has been some shift. When a club is paying £24m for Joleon Lescott or £80m for a player who is already desperate to leave their current club, you have to wonder how far you can stretch your cash.
But then that statement just doesn’t add up when you look at how much money United are spending at the moment. The £10m for Javier Hernandez could prove to be one of the best bargains our manager has ever pulled off, with the young Mexican striker scoring against World Champions Spain in a 1-1 draw last night, to add to the goals he scored against Argentina and France at the World Cup.
However, we apparently spent £10m on Chris Smalling, which again might prove to be a good buy, but you have to consider this last couldn’t even get in to the Fulham team towards the end of last season and was plying his trade in the Isthmian League Premier Division just two years ago. His place in the England U-21 side again suggests that there is real potential there.
Then there’s Mame Biram Diouf, who was also wanted by Arsene Wenger, who scored on his home début and set us back about £5m. We’d been watching him for a couple of years and he came from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s former club. He has recently gone out on loan with Blackburn, scoring on his début in a friendly against Hearts, but we’re still waiting to see whether he’s got what it takes.
It’s too early to say what kind of careers these lads are going to have but Ferguson’s claims about “value in the market” don’t seem to add up with splashing out a considerable amount of money and generally unproven youngsters. Those three haven’t even celebrated their 23rd birthdays yet, have less than 20 International caps between them but cost us close to £30m.
Then yesterday, totally bizarrely and out of the blue, it’s revealed that we’ve signed this Bébé, who currently plays in Portugal’s third division, grew up in an orphanage and has represented his country… at the Homeless World Cup. Seriously, even Disney couldn’t come up with a story like this. The Guardian reports the 20-year-old cost us a massive £7.4m under the recommendation of Carlos Queiroz.
Is that the kind of value Ferguson has been talking about? Surely a good value player is a player with some pedigree and who costs a fair price. Is £7.4m a fair price for a player fit for Portugal’s third tier? Is £10m a fair price for a player who can’t get in Fulham’s first XI?
All these deals may very well turn out to be great bargains but if Fergie is going to repeatedly talk about good value, he can’t then splash out close to £40m on totally unproven players. It just doesn’t add up.
Made in Manchester is available for just £5. It includes 30 articles from the country's best football writers about graduates from the Manchester United academy. Everyone who buys a copy enters a competition to win the new home shirt. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.