Sir Alex Ferguson rarely confirms who are transfer targets are so when he opted to tell the media that we were trying to bring in Lucas Moura from Sao Paulo and Robin van Persie, conspiracy theories started to circulate amongst some United fans. Was he under instructions to make the club look more competitive to help with the IPO? Were the club desperate for more season ticket sales and needed links with big stars to try and bring in new customers?
After reportedly offering £30m for the unproven 19-year-old, United have been outbid by PSG, who have agreed a £35m deal for the Brazilian. United once made a £6.5m gamble on a Brazilian World Cup winner who assisted one of the goals in the final, Kléberson. He had never played outside of Brazil but if he could make the starting line-up for the best country in the world, he was worth a punt. Whilst he wasn’t completely lacking in ability, a series of injuries as well as failing to adjust meant that Kléberson went down in the history books as a Manchester United flop. The idea of us paying £30m for some kid who can’t even make Brazil’s Olympic starting XI seems fairly insane.
“I find it amazing that a club can pay 45m euros for a 19-year-old boy,” said Ferguson. “I think they have spent over 150m euros in the last couple of months or so. They are trying to tell people they are here. The only deterrent to that is UEFA. I am sure Michel Platini will be concerned. It doesn’t matter which country you are from, I’m sure he will be concerned by what’s happened recently.”
Whilst the lad clearly has bags of talent, an expert from Brazil had a few reservations about Lucas when we appeared to be the only club interested in him.
Lucas has good passing skills, but he seldom takes advantage of that ability, preferring to dribble rather than to pass, also annoying teammates and fans alike. This poor decision making has been criticised by most of his previous coaches, who failed to fix the problem.
He also needs to improve his consistency and his concentration, as he often disappears during games, especially in important ones such as playoff games and derbies. These issues have lead many São Paulo fans to regard him as a choker and some pundits went as far as to comparing him to the likes of Denílson and Lulinha, both of which were expected to achieve far more than they did.
Right now he is still behind not only Neymar, but also Oscar, who is a more complete, decisive and consistent player than Lucas.
Lucas is only young and may overcome these weaknesses in his game but there is every chance that he won’t. Chelsea have just paid £25m for Oscar and they have the money to gamble. Can United really afford to take a chance on a worse player for an extra £5m? Thankfully, PSG have made that question redundant, and if United really do have £30m knocking about, I’m sure we can find someone much more suitable to spend it on.
Which brings us nicely to Arsenal’s captain, Robin van Persie, who according to the media, is keen on joining United ahead of City and Juventus.
“We have made a bid but Arsenal are trying to negotiate with other clubs,” Ferguson said. “We just have to persevere and hope things come our way. We have made a bid and they’ve been trying to negotiate with other clubs. We are trying our best but there is no progress at this moment in time. It’s difficult to say why they are operating in this way or know what their thoughts are because they are not giving anything away. We are not getting any breakthrough. I can’t give you any more information. We just have to persevere. We are trying our best and hopefully it will come our way but there’s no progress at this moment in time.”
United have apparently offered £18m for van Persie today but Arsenal are holding out for something closer to £25m. Due to his injury record and the fact he only has one year remaining on his current deal, United’s valuation seems accurate. But if United really were prepared to spend £30m on a kid who had never played in the Premier League, can we not pay £20m for last season’s top scorer? It’s an odd one. Seemingly no other clubs agree with Arsenal’s asking price and United will sit it out. You would imagine if Juventus put in a £20m bid that United would match it and then it would be down to agreeing personal terms with the player.
As with Lucas Moura, there should be reservations about this deal too though, given that van Persie has only managed to play more than 28 league games once in his career. Do we want to sign a player on a top salary who more than likely will spend large proportion of that time on the treatment table? Do we want to sign a 29-year-old whose inclusion in the team will only halt the progress of youngsters like Danny Welbeck and Chicharito? For the time being, all we can do is speculate, because as it stands, it looks to be yet another frustrating transfer window for United.