Let’s be honest, Nemanja Vidic wants out of Old Trafford. The only question is whether Sir Alex Ferguson will countenance a sale with no obvious replacement available. More to the point the Serbian defender, 28, has not been offered a new deal at the club despite only two years remaining on the defender’s contract.
It’s a saga that has rumbled on for more than a year, with Vidic and his outspoken agent, Paolo Fabbri, keen to secure a contract that will put the Serbian’s wages on a par with Rio Ferdinand at £120,000 per week. Grotesque perhaps but the undoubtedly the going rate for a player of Vidic’s class, experience and status in the world game.
United, burdened by an ever growing wage bill and huge debts, seem unlikely to meet the player’s demands this summer, risking a knock-down fee in 2011 or, worse still, a free transfer out of Old Trafford in two years time.
Discount the contradictory quotes by the former Spartak Moscow defender, who is smart enough not to alienate his employers and the club’s fans before a move out of Manchester is secured, and focus on the cold hard cash. In the inflated market, Vidic is worth more than his £70,000 per week and he knows it.
No surprise then that Europe’s leading clubs including both Milan teams, Barcelona and latterly Real Madrid have expressed an interest in the defender, whom Fabbri has successfully hawked around the continent in recent months. Indeed, shortly prior to the World Cup the agent refused to rule out a move in the kind of non-denial-denial that is so common of the football transfer market today.
“We are waiting for Nemanja to tell us what we he wants to do,” Fabbri said.
“We are waiting as it is up to him. It won’t be until after the World Cup he makes a decision on his future. We have requested some time from Manchester United to think about things and Nemanja does not want to look at things until after the World Cup. Any eventual transfer will take place only after the World Cup.”
Hardly a declaration of his client’s love for the United shirt.
But will, should, could Ferguson permit the defender the transfer he desires? After all the manager’s justification for taking Real Madrid’s £80 million last summer was that “the boy wanted to move on,” just as Vidic does today.
There are subtle differences of course. While Ronaldo’s desire to play for Real Madrid had very little to do with money, Vidic’s dissatisfaction is primarily economic. The outcome is the same though, with Ferguson effectively asking Ronaldo to stay at the club an extra year in 2008 before granting the player a move.
United could pull the same trick with Vidic during the current window of course but the effect, with the player turning 29 this season and the clock running down on his contract, will be felt by the Old Trafford bean counters. After all, the £20 million plus fee United might expect to receive will reduce by up to half next summer. In the club’s current financial situation that is relevant.
Then there is the prickly question of United’s squad that suffered so much with injuries in defensive positions last season. Rio Ferdinand’s fitness can no longer be relied on; back injuries just don’t heal. Meanwhile, Jonny Evans has less than 60 starts in a red shirt, and new signing Chris Smalling none at all.
It is, or course, a scenario that points to Vidic remaining at the club no matter how much his agent works against United’s interests.
The worry for the club’s supporters though is that with cash haemorrhaging out of the bank account in interest payments and the Glazer family so obviously restricting the manager’s transfer activity, Ferguson may not get the final say.