Sir Alex Ferguson had an “impromptu” interview with MUTV on Friday to respond to transfer speculation that Manchester United had put in a bid for Robin van Persie. Unlike the usual tittle tattle in the tabloids, that morning the BBC reported: “Arsenal have dismissed Manchester United’s bid for Robin van Persie, with offers from Manchester City and Juventus also short of their valuation.”
This isn’t what Ferguson usually does with transfer speculation. Let’s not forget that Sao Paulo’s director, Marco Aurelio Cunha Cunha, confirmed that we had put in a bid for Lucas Moura this week too. “Manchester United made a very important offer of €35m but they would need to produce a little more,” he said. This wasn’t just a story on the BBC, but direct quotes, yet Ferguson didn’t feel the need to confirm or deny this rumour.
So, what’s going on?
Raising the transfer fee for City
Some people have suggested that Ferguson, who now has a good relationship with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, wants to raise the transfer fee for City to pay. If we put in a few bids, knowing we’ll never actually be able to pay the player what he wants, City will have to keep matching our offers. Arsenal get more money for the player whilst City land themselves with a larger transfer fee with FFP implications.
Hmmm. Well, that’s just nonsense isn’t it. As if making City pay an extra £5m for a player, which is a drop in the ocean and makes no difference to their battle with FFP, is worth Ferguson losing face after missing out on another well reported transfer target. You think Fergie will be prepared to help Arsenal at the cost of making United look like, yet again, they have no pulling power? Of course not.
Appearance of competing
I’ve seen other people claim that we have no intention of signing van Persie but have put in the bid to keep the fans sweet and to appear a more attractive prospect with this IPO business hanging over us, just as we did with Eden Hazard, when in reality we would never be able to pay him and his agent what they wanted. The club want to show willing, giving the illusion of being to compete on some level with the top clubs, to try and show that the Glazers aren’t hindering us.
Again, if that was the case, Ferguson would be knowingly setting himself up to look like we can’t compete with City so would have the opposite to the desired effect.
Secure season ticket sales
Others have claimed that the bid is a cynical ploy to try and increase season ticket sales, with United using local radio and newspapers to advertise for next season. If United could secure a player like van Persie, it would say an awful lot about our intentions. People buy up a season ticket, only for United to be predictably miss out
It’s hard to imagine that anyone would spend £532-£950 just because United had put a bid in for a player. I know there may be some fairly daft reds but this would be taking it to a new level. Ferguson said: “There’s no point talking about something that might not happen.” Hardly the talk of a man trying to convince people to buy a season ticket because we’re going to sign van Persie, is it?
Scooping the press
Ferguson was due to speak to MUTV that day but after the story went on the BBC, the club wanted to get the first comments on Robin van Persie, so grabbed him before his press conference so they could get the exclusive. No, it’s not like Ferguson to talk about transfers, but he was only going to be asked the questions by the press later, so MUTV changed the time of their interview, making it “impromptu”, but there is no ulterior motive behind it.
Ferguson is genuinely confident
Maybe Ferguson has been given assurances from Wenger that if we meet their asking price (not the ridiculous £30m that’s in the papers), we will get the player. Following Nasri, Clichy, Adebayor and Toure making the move from North London to the Etihad over recent years, Arsenal are keen to distance themselves from the “feeder club” tag. So, unless City make an offer that makes it worth Arsenal’s while, maybe they have no intention of selling another player to City, and would much rather do business with Juventus or United. City don’t need to act in a desperate way anymore though, so are unlikely to slap another £10m over what the other clubs are prepared to pay to get an offer accepted. Reports from Italy suggest that Juve would only be able to stump up £110k-a-week whilst reports from England suggest he has turned down £130k-a-week at Arsenal. It’s possible Ferguson has spoken of his confidence because he believes he’s only competing with Juve for van Persie’s signature and knows we can offer him considerably more money than them.
Watch this space…