Season shape-up - Man United

19 June 2009 12:21
The impending departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid has blown the transfer market wide open, with Manchester United expected to fill the void created by the Portuguese's exit with big money signings of their own. Real Madrid's annual flirting with United's No.7 has finally seen them land their man in a world record deal, but where should United be searching to find his replacement? speculates on what Sir Alex Ferguson might have in mind. What's happened so farReal Madrid's world record signings of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo have generated a "tsunami" in the world of football, as Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas so aptly described it. Never before in Sir Alex Ferguson's reign have United been forced to relinquish an unfulfilled talent of such quality. Ronaldo, named World Player of the Year at just 23 years of age, has been courted by the men from Madrid for the past three seasons. And, despite showing petulance of late, few at Old Trafford would have believed the £80million deal would have been approved so quickly had he not questioned the manager after defeat in the UEFA Champions League final in Rome. It is a fee Sir Bobby Charlton has described as "vulgar" but good business considering the Portuguese so desperately wanted a move to the Bernabeu. The dynamic at Old Trafford will undoubtedly alter as a result, though, with a return to a team ethos not so heavily reliant on the devastating forward running of one attacker. Carlos Tevez is one selfless performer that would fit into that category going forwards, but his future has yet to be resolved following the expiration of his two-year loan deal. Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea are all potential suitors, with the £25million fee a sticking point at Old Trafford. But the money produced by the Ronaldo deal means United have finally coughed up the cash and so it is time for another Old Trafford favourite's loyalty - if such a thing exists anymore - to be tested. Fraizer Campbell is one player who looks certain to move on after a fee was agreed with Hull City, although several other Premier League clubs are chasing the England Under 21 international, who struggled to make an impact on loan at Tottenham last season. As for players being added to the Premier League champions' squad, Wigan Athletic winger Antonio Valencia appears to be the first target at present with a bid in excess of £16million on the table, while Brazilian youngster Dodo is tipped to join over the summer. Fergie has long admired young Lyon forward Karim Benzema as well, although any approach would appear to hinge on Tevez's decision and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery looks another option to fill the now gaping hole in attack. What they needJust how much Ferguson needs to add to his squad will depend on whether the deals for Ronaldo and Tevez go through. But if Ronaldo does leave for Real this summer (at least it will mean we won't have to discuss this again in 12 months' time), then a winger would appear to be a priority. Valencia could fill that role, but the Ecuador international has been mooted as a replacement for the disappointing Nani, so Ribery then looks be the prime target. Reports claim the Bayern Munich ace would prefer a move to Spain, but United would surely be capable of persuading Ribery to move to the Premier League if needed. Should Tevez also leave, then a striker seems certain to be brought in as Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck are not yet experienced enough to provide the back-up to Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov. Lyon's potent hit-man Benzema is an attractive proposition at 21 years of age and continues to be linked with United, so a bid would not be a surprise if Tevez goes. The Champions League final defeat by Barcelona also shown up shortcomings in the midfield region and a holding midfield player with a bit of bite could be required if Owen Hargreaves fails to return to full fitness. Darren Fletcher can fill the role against most opposition in the Premier League, but United do need another option to break up attacks and harry opponents with Paul Scholes less and less of a viable option. What they'll get Ferguson has led his team to a hat-trick of Premier League titles and they reached a second successive Champions League final, but the loss of Ronaldo would leave a gaping hole in any team. A quality striker seems certain to arrive if Tevez goes and it is hard not to envisage Valencia pitching up at Old Trafford. As for exits, Campbell is on his way out and Danny Simpson looks likely to be another youngster who will be allowed to move on, particularly after last season's emergence of Rafael. The futures of stalwarts Gary Neville and Scholes have been discussed recently, but while the veteran duo are unlikely to feature regularly next term, their experience remains valuable. Outside of Tevez and Ronaldo, the highest-profile departure could be Nani, who failed to build on a promising debut season and does not convince as someone with the right mentality to be a United regular. With Ronaldo out, and possibly Tevez, we need at least a winger and a striker. For me I would aim for Silva & Villa from Valencia. They have worked well together at Valencia, both are young and I have dreamt about Villa in a United shirt for over five years. So say that is £60million gone from the supposed £100 million. If we can't land the Valencia duo, I would aim for the player we went for before Ronaldo, simply because he would be cheap: Ronaldinho. We also need a good defensive midfielder. Again my first choice would be Essien. But I highly doubt that would happen so I would then head for De Rossi. He shouldn't cost more than £25m. That leaves us with £15m plus the £6m from the sale of Campbell. And that would go towards Valencia for around £18 (tops). So if we did sign Silva, Villa, De Rossi & Valencia, I would most probably have forget about Ronaldo come October. Have your say on who United should be chasing by filling in the feedback form below.

Source: SKY_Sports