There have been some notoriously poor signings made in the past by Sir Alex Ferguson. Eric Djemba-Djemba, Kleberson, Dong Fangzhou (look him up if you blinked and missed his United career) and the most expensive of all, Juan Sebastián Verón. Some would say that Manchester United’s Portuguese forward Bébé would also deserve to join that infamous list. However, is he really that bad and is his career at Old Trafford over already?
Tiago Manuel Dias Correia, to give his full name, was a near no-one playing in the Portuguese third tier when he signed on a free transfer for Vitoria in the Portuguese Primera Liga. Although it was unlikely that this would have bothered him. This was a significant improvement from the homelessness he had endured after being abandoned by his parents as a young child. It was also a progression from his previous side, Estrela, who could no longer afford to pay his salary.
He was also rejected by PSV before being snapped up by a wage paying side although the Dutch giants were no doubt regretting this not long into the 2010/11 pre-season. Six friendlies, five goals and the twenty year old was ushered on to the world stage. His performances had impressed his new side so much so that they increased his initial €3m release clause to €9m in a matter of weeks.
This record in non-competitive matches was enough to convince United to activate his release cause after a tip-off by former assistant manager Carlos Queiroz. After all who could refuse a recommendation by the man who is credited with discovering Luis Figo and Rui Costa?
Ferguson certainly could not, judging by his eagerness to complete the deal. The Scotsman only met his new signing the day before the completion of the transfer. You can say this was a true rag to riches story, with only the likes previously seen before in stories by Walt Disney.
So where is he now? A senior international helping the red side of Manchester take on Real Madrid? No of course not. It’s fair to say Bébé’s career has stuttered significantly. Currently on loan in the Portuguese top flight with Rio Ave after only recently recovering from cruciate ligament tear. And how did he recuperate prior to this loan deal? With just one goal in five starts in the Premier League’s U21 equivalent.
Add this to the fact that last season he managed just five appearances on loan at Besiktas following the injury he suffered whilst on duty with Portugal U21s.
This is a little harsh on the forward although. Injuries are usually unavoidable and he has managed two goals in seven appearances for Rio Ave. But his Manchester United career is without doubt at a standstill and the dream is slowing slipping away for Bébé. Of course there’s no shame with competing in Portugal’s premier division but it looks unlikely he will be able to cement himself in the United side.
The striker does, however, have one thing on his side and that is time. Right now he is only 22 years old. His contract at Old Trafford runs until June 2015 but whether he sees that out remains to be seen. It looks like Bébé’s future is set to be away from the Premier League unless something miraculous happens in the near future. But one thing Sir Alex Ferguson has benefitted from, though, by making this signing is that Carlos Queiroz has most likely lost his scouting touch.