How much are Manchester United really willing to spend this summer?

Are Manchester United really in a position to spend £25m on Jack Rodwell?Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are closing in on their second treble in little over a decade, and as the great phrase goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Ferguson’s squad is by no means broke, but with the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs reaching the grand old age of 40, and Edwin van der Sar having already surpassed this mark, surely a makeover is in order. What lengths will Ferguson go to ensuring his squad for the 2011/2012 is as strong, experienced and driven as the one that entered the business end of the current campaign dreaming of once again dominating European and domestic football?

Money is no issue in football nowadays – It’s almost as if the ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ idea has finally been diminished. I mean, whilst in the real world we are faced with a recession, up in the fantasy that is the football universe Premiership managers have money sprawling out of their ears. Look at Andy Carroll at Liverpool. He appears to be an extremely good addition to Kenny Dalglish’s side, but is he really worth £35m? The fact that Fergie has less to spend than the likes of Roberto Mancini and Carlo Ancelloti makes it that bit more vital that he does bring in the right type of players; players that have the skill levels to match those nearing the end of their futures at the club. Nobody will ever be able to forget Giggs or Van der Sar in a hurry (Giggs was recently named United’s greatest ever player by a worldwide poll), and although the Welshman recently signed a 1-year contract extension, Sir Alex will be going all out to pay for a replacement worthy of such high expectations. Like a young child, Ferguson – although dictated to by Wayne Rooney just a few months ago – usually does get what he wants, and a few fresh young starlets in the summer wouldn’t go amiss at Old Trafford.

Let’s talk about Ashley Young. Speculation about the winger has been present for months, and Young himself is said to have set his heart on a move to United this summer in a deal costing United around £12m. Young, like Giggs, is capable of running at players; producing pin-point crosses; and has an abundance of pace. The winger, capable of embarrassing defenders in his sleep, is Villa’s top goal scorer this campaign and would appear to be the perfect replacement for Giggs at a price which wouldn’t break the bank, or the Glazers for that matter.

The trouble for Ferguson will be finding a replacement for Van der Sar. If not the best goalkeeper of his generation, the Dutchman has been instrumental in United’s successes since signing from Fulham in 2005. Could Pepe Reina of Liverpool be the man to fill his gloves? The will he, won’t he case appears to be an everlasting one, but with Van der Sar retiring at the end of the season Fergie must splash the cash or risk playing Thomas Kuszczak in goal each week. Sir Alex, if you want to know how to deal with dodgy keepers each week speak to Wenger, he knows a bit about
them. I cannot see the Scotsman worrying about his budget when looking for a ‘keeper – he can expect to spend £20m and upwards for a safe pair of hands between the sticks.

United have kept a watchful eye over Jack Rodwell in recent months. The Everton midfielder shares so many comparisons with Wayne Rooney that he seems destined to follow Rooney’s career path (although a role in a movie about an ogre is yet to be confirmed). The midfielder is talented, English, and has been under Ferguson’s radar from a young age. What could go wrong? Well the price for a start. David Moyes is no mug; he has been involved in football for too many years to know that in Rodwell he has a player who could fetch him quite a few bob. A mere £25m has been rumoured. When you think that Javier Hernadez and Cristiano Ronaldo cost Ferguson a combined total of £20m, am I the only one that thinks £25m is a bit pricey? Well I guess that is a result of the inflation in football. Look at Ancelloti, who spent £50m on a striker who has been outscored by a defender who cost more than half that sum of money. The Red Football Joint Venture, the parent company set up to run United, today recorded losses of £109m. This may seem detrimental to Ferguson’s transfer budget, but I guess it shows that United have such a strength in depth that they are not pushed into buying several players each season just to ensure that they remain in the running for trophies year in, year out (*cough* City *cough*).

As long as Ferguson is in charge, United fans do not need to be pessimistic about their future, despite the Glazers causing pandemonium behind the scenes. Expect 3 or 4 key signings in the summer to revamp a side becoming increasingly despondent on old legs which have unfortunately finally ran their course. Giggs’ contract extension will not be enough to stop Ferguson from looking for a much needed replacement, but that’s the problem you face when you have a squad full of trophy winners – once they’re time is up, be ready to fork out enough money to buy equally skilled replacements. My answer to how much exactly Ferguson will spend? £40-50m should be enough to paper over the cracks in the squad. Or wrinkles.

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