Tag Samir Nasri

Tag Samir Nasri

Sneijder on the cards as the ‘V’ word comes into focus

Ed July 12, 2011 Tags: , , , Opinion 40 comments

What defines value? A simple noun that has become a pseudonym for the Glazer era at Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson’s protestation over the past two summers – since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid in 2009 – centred on the word. Value, said the Scot, was absent from the transfer market. Value, he insisted, is the United way. Forget the six occasions on which United had broken the British transfer record; value was now the sole moniker with which the Reds approached the market.

Supporters cried foul of course. Value has always had that ephemeral quality. Here in Javier Hernández, Mesut Özil, Rafael van der Vaart – Sneijder himself – Nurin Sahin and many others. Gone, some might say, in a half-a-dozen ringers brought to Eastlands, and Fernando Torres acquired so expensively by Chelsea. Add Andy Carroll, Bébé and £18.5 million Stuart Downing to that list.

What then to make of United’s apparent £35 million offer for Wesley Sneijder, the brilliant Dutchman employed by Internazionale. He is, after all, a player who led Inter to a famous treble 12 months ago and Holland to the World Cup final. For the quality Sneijder possesses the Dutchman is, arguably, cheap at the price.

Yet there is something unsettling too, exciting though the potential transfer is. Why, if Sneijder is the player so admired by Ferguson, did United not acquire the 27-year-old when he left Real Madrid just two years ago? Hungrier, younger, more dynamic in 2009; one wonders whether Sneijder is the same player after a relatively mediocre season with Inter over the past year. This question is especially pertinent given Inter paid around £20 million  less for the player.

Of course, Ferguson retained Paul Scholes in his squad over the past two years. Yet, the now retired Scholes has not started 30 Premier League games for the Scot in six years.

Ferguson did not mention Sneijder in a remarkably open press conference in Boston last night but the heavy recognition of United’s requirement for quality laced the Scot’s comments. In the midst of a youth-driven evolution of United’s squad, value, it seems may be cast aside.

“We try to look ahead, we try to make sure we have an influx of young players coming through to replace the older players,” said Ferguson.

“We’ve been well aware of the need to replace Ryan Giggs. And with Gary Neville , Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar leaving, we were well aware that we were going to have to replace them at some point.

“So the work we’ve done in the last few years has been centred around that. The big problem, of course, is how do you replace somebody like Paul Scholes?  It’s very, very difficult. If you bracket four of the best midfield players in the world, Scholes would be there along with Xavi and Iniesta.

“How will we overcome it? Maybe the next few weeks will help us in that respect. As they often do at Manchester United, maybe somebody will emerge out of the youth team or one of the young players emerges. It would be impossible to get another Paul Scholes, but if we can get a player along similar lines in terms of the quality of his passing and vision, then yes we’d have to do something.”

If that fourth player in Ferguson’s quartet of midfield quality is indeed Sneijder the acquisition will transform United’s midfield. The party now touring the United States includes just Anderson and Michael Carrick as recognised central midfielders, with Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley providing potential support.

Yet the economics are truly eye-watering on any deal to bring Sneijder to Old Trafford; a point fans might do well to remember until the Dutchman is sitting beside a beaming David Gill, signature pen in hand. The £35 million transfer fee will be augmented by a salary not less than £200,000 per week, or £10.4 million per year.

Even if United knock Sneijder down to those wages it will represent a significant pay cut for the player and a total investment of more than £80 million over a five-year contract with the club. With Sneijder 32 at the contract’s end, and therefore commanding little resale fee, one wonders where the deal sits in Ferguson’s characterisation of value.

Indeed, United’s decision to pursue multiple targets this summer is unlikely to have ended, despite Ferguson’s apparent admission that Samir Nasri has slipped through the Scot’s fingers. Label it ‘mind games’ perhaps, but Ferguson’s assertion that Arsene Wenger is “brave” to make Nasri wait out the final year on the Frenchman’s contract is more than a little cheeky.

“I don’t think he’s coming to United. That’s all I can tell you. I think he’s agreed to go somewhere else,” added the Scot.

“Maybe he has to stay at Arsenal, also. That’s a possibility. That’s a decision [Wenger] has made. If he stands by that decision it’s a brave one. I’m not sure the Arsenal directors will enjoy that one, but it’s possible.”

United had remained confident of luring the Frenchman to Old Trafford up to and beyond faxing a £20 million bid to Arsenal three weeks ago. This for a player available for nothing in 12 months time. Some reports even suggested that the club is countenancing acquiring both Sneijder and Nasri this summer.

It’s a proposition that brings the question right back to the issue of value and what it means.

Poll: Nasri or Sneijder?

Ed July 10, 2011 Tags: , , Polls 60 comments

Question most Manchester United supporters and the majority will say that the club’s priority this summer is to acquire a top-class creative central midfielder. With Anderson having failed to blossom into the attacking talent once displayed at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and Darron Gibson never good enough to make it at Old Trafford many pundits claim that Sir Alex Ferguson will spend this summer. It’s a feeling strengthened by Paul Scholes’ expected retirement and move into coaching.

However, Ferguson’s reported first choice Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur will not be allowed to leave White Hart Lane this summer. Could Arsenal’s Samir Nasri or Wesley Sneijder of Internazionale be the cherry on top of the icing on a decent transfer window for United to date? Neither will come cheap, in terms of transfer fee or wages, but each has the quality to improve United’s central midfield in the coming season. Only time and the Glazer family’s desire to spend millions of their hard pilfered cash will tell.

But which of the pair would you, the fans, prefer to grace Old Trafford next season? To aid the decision here are some  facts, as Rafael Benítez might add.

Samir Nasri

Age – 24
Fee – c£25 million
Wage – £120,000 per week
Total financial commitment (five years) – £56.2 million

2010/11 statistics (all club competitions):
Games – 50
Goals – 17
Assists – 4
Shots – 108
On goal – 50
Pass completion – 88 per cent

Wesley Sneijder

Age – 27
Fee – c£35 million
Wage – £250,000 per week
Total financial commitment (five years) – £100 million

2010/11 statistics (all club competitions):
Games – 38
Goals – 7
Assists – 7
Shots – 148
On goal – 44
Pass completion – 85 per cent

Poll: Nasri or Sneijder?

View Results

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Barça transfer carousel impacts Red priorities

Ed June 29, 2011 Tags: , , Opinion 47 comments

The futures of Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez and Samir Nasri will be clarified in the coming weeks, with much riding on the ever entertaining internal politics at Barcelona. The heavily indebted European champion claims to have a summer transfer budget of just €40 million, but with a deal for Sanchez still on the agenda and Fabregas increasingly likely to move, something is likely to give. More importantly for Manchester United supporters, Barça’s business will directly impact Sir Alex Ferguson’s planning this summer.

Deals for both Sanchez and Fabregas will have consequences for a selection of Barça’s squad players too, including 20-year-old Bojan Krkić, whom the Catalan giants are reportedly willing to sell for €10 million in a token effort to balance the books.

Barça’s attempt to use another youngster, Jeffrén Suárez, as bait in a Sanchez deal failed, with the player unwilling to join Udinese. The failed opening bid is unlikely to stop Pep Guardiola’s adding two outstanding midfielders to his side’s already plentiful options. The transfer maneuvering comes despite the Catalans picking up €21 million owed for Zlatan Ibrahimovich. The message is clear: Barça must sell to buy this summer.

Closer to home, the merry-go-round may yet have consequences for United, with Ferguson back from his annual French holiday to oversee the club’s search for central midfield creativity. With deals for Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea all inked, United retains more than a passing interest in Arsenal’s contract-rebel Nasri.

Thiago Alcântara, the Italian-born Spaniard of Brazilian parentage, was reportedly also on Ferguson’s radar as a fall-back option until the youngster signed a new deal at Camp Nou on Wednesday. In truth there seemed little in the reports. United’s interest in Nasri is seemingly more concrete, having hardened as potential for deals on Luka Modric and Wesley Sneijder closed.

Yet with Arsenal preparing to let Fabregas go according to every pundit this side of the Pyrenees the Londoners will feel compelled to offer Nasri a contract hike to more than £100,000 per week. It is figure within reach for United but exclusively Fabregas’ domain at the Emirates. Whether the Frenchman is willing to stay at the post-Fabregas club is as yet undetermined but the News of the World‘s, claim that the player’s predilection is now for a move north this summer will be noted at Old Trafford.

Only a bid will flush out the truth of course and Arsenal’s hand may be forced should United actually make a reported £20 million move this week. After all, Arsenal faces the very real prospect of losing 24-year-old Nasri for nothing in a year’s time when his contract ends.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is talking a tough game. The Frenchman can do little else with few options now left open regarding Fabregas except to negotiate the price.

“One thing’s for sure: we’re not selling him to Manchester United. We are trying to extend his deal,” claimed
Wenger last week. Whether majority shareholder Stan Kroenke agrees is another matter; losing a multi-million pound asset for nothing is surely unacceptable.

For United Nasri’s capture would provide the icing on a profitable transfer cake this summer. Driving a wedge between Wenger and his board merely the cherry on top.

Elsewhere Manchester City has admitted defeat in the club’s chase for Sanchez. While the Abu Dhabi-backed outfit upped the bidding to a reported £32 million – a figure that Chelsea is prepared to match – Sanchez’ representatives have made it known that a move to Camp Nou is the only option on the cards.

Barça’s opening £22 million offer plus Jeffren increased today, with the bid reported to now be £24 million guaranteed, rising to £36 million based on player performance targets. It is, said a spokesperson, a final non-negotiable offer.

“We are waiting for a response from Udinese,” a Barça spokesperson told Spanish news agency EFE today. “Barcelona made a definitive offer for the player and we will not change the parameters indicated.”

Meanwhile, Fabregas will join the Chilean winger in Catalonia having left the Arsenal board in no doubt about the player’s priority this summer. To that end Barça is reported to have made a renewed offer of £35 million on Wednesday, with the end game now in sight.

Of course, Barça’s transfer shenanigans is of passing interest to United, although the club sent a delegation to Udinese a fortnight ago. That chief executive David Gill came back empty-handed on a player Ferguson has tracked for more than three years is indicative of the club’s continued unwillingness to enter pan-European bidding wars.

There is, after all, a financial food chain in place, which in part at least explains Nasri’s new-found attractiveness at Old Trafford. The Frenchman is potentially obtainable where Modric is not without forcing Tottenham Hotspur’s hand with a premium bid. Similarly, Sneijder’s fee and wages package would mean a total commitment of more than £80 million for a player that turns 27 in the coming season.

It could yet go wrong for Ferguson. Should Arsenal play hardball on Nasri, United’s midfield options will appear narrower than ever.