Not a day has gone by, since the curtain came down on Manchester United’s worst season in decades, without the deposed English champions being linked to a posse of players. Such speculation is hardly unusual for this club but, with the World Cup in full flow and so much fantastic football for fans to feast their eyes upon, things have reached the fever-pitched crescendo of a feeding-frenzy. One player’s name, however, continues to be heard above the din: Arturo Vidal.
The last week has been a frantic one for United. Having wrapped up deals for two talented young players, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, in the space of just two days, the club’s fans, starved of excitement for what seemed like an age during David Moyes’ calamitous reign, are spinning in a dizzying daze, drunk on the delightful sense that Louis van Gaal, despite being on the other side of the world, is restoring order to their beloved club.
It is a far cry from the flailing incompetence of last summer, when United’s pursuit of various high-profile European talents could have been set to Benny Hill music and ultimately saw them end up with nothing but custard pie on their face and a grotesquely overpriced Belgian to show for it. Given that embarrassing chapter, the capture of two exciting prospects, especially given the lack of Champions League football on offer, gives United fans a reassuring sense that their club is, if not back, then certainly moving in the right direction.
There is, however, much work still to be done and executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, remains on probation. United supporters are deeply scarred by the humiliation of, not just last season, but the summer shenanigans that served as a prelude to it, when Woodward appeared to be little more than a walking omni-shambles. Herrera and Shaw are a fantastic start but United need much more.
The squad is not short of flare. The likes of Robin van Persie, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney can all unlock the most stubborn of defences, on their day. Nevertheless, as has been the case for some time, the squad is sorely lacking in grit, power and steel.
With Nemanja Vidic having penned a deal with Inter Milan, in January, in the footballing equivalent of a man jumping head-first into the back of a getaway-car, flicking the v’s at Moyes as he did so, before it screeched away in a cloud of dust, Rio Ferdinand having being sent packing and Ryan Giggs having retired, the squad now looks painfully young, lightweight and shorn of natural leaders.
Which is where Vidal, who excelled at the heart of the wonderful Chilean side that lit up the World Cup, comes in.
Vidal would not come cheap, with a fee of £40m and a weekly wage as high as £250,000 being widely quoted. Nevertheless, if that is what it takes to prise the twenty-seven year-old to a club that will not be competing in the Champions League for at least a year, then United should surely pay it.
After all, Vidal is exactly the type of player the club have been missing since Roy Keane departed in a blaze of acrimony, all those years ago. He would add bite, strength, tenacity and the ability to grab games by the scruff of the neck and inspire those around him. Not only does he break up play but he is an accomplished passer of the ball and even weighs in with the odd goal, which have been in short supply from that area of the pitch for too long.
Vidal is entering his peak years and would buck the overall trend at United of buying youthful potential. However, we all saw what an effect bringing a ready-made, experienced player to the club had when Robin van Persie came from Arsenal. At times, it is exactly what a team needs.
It has been easy to get carried away over the last couple of weeks sitting, glued to this wonderful World Cup, behaving like children in a toy-shop, pointing at the television every two minutes and declaring “I want him! I want him! I want him!” Out of them all, though, Arturo Vidal may just be the one United most need.
Topics: Arturo Vidal