Friday, August 12, 2011

Does Sneijder Make United Better Than Barca?

Every move Manchester United has made this summer has been geared towards catching defending European champions Barcelona, but the deal that might put them over the top is the one that hasn't happened yet.

The defending Premiership champions and Champions League runners-up have already landed winger Ashley Young, goalkeeper David de Gea and defender Phil Jones, but Sir Alex Ferguson has his sights set on Inter Milan superstar midfielder Wesley Sneijder.

The 27-year-old Dutch playmaker has been linked to a move to United all summer long, but with talks heating up in the last two weeks, a deal seems to be imminent.

According to a report from Mirror Football, United expect to have a deal finished by the end of the week. Sneijder's representatives are expected to talk to Inter this week to ask for permission to officially discuss terms at Old Trafford, in what would likely be a £32 million deal for the 27-year-old.

If United manage to seal this deal (and that's far from a guarantee at this point, although it's becoming more likely every day), is Sneijder enough to get them to their ultimate goal of surpassing Barcelona and bringing home a Champions League title?

The one area where United falls short of the Spanish giants is the midfield. For all their talent on the wings, United don't have anyone capable of making plays, creating chances, or taking shots from distance.

In Sneijder, they would have that midfielder. He's a world-class midfielder with a nose for goal, and few players are as skilled with the ball at their feet. He's a leader on the pitch, and is capable of filling United's needs perfectly with his gifts on the ball.

Sneijder's not the best defensive midfielder on the planet, but with players like Park Ji-Sung and Michael Carrick on the roster, he doesn't have to be. He simple needs to make plays and create chances for the strikers, and he's fully capable of doing that at Old Trafford.

With the Dutchman in the fold, the playing field becomes much more level between the two powerhouse clubs. Suddenly, Barca's midfield advantage is lessened, and Ferguson has the versatility to play a variety of different looks in the middle. He can throw myriad combinations of midfielders out there and has the firepower to match Barcelona's relentless onslaught.

Even without Sneijder in the fold, United are one of the few clubs on Earth capable of consistently hanging with the Spanish giants. Their attack would still be fantastic, and could pull a stunner if they play perfectly.

But with the 27-year-old maestro making those fantastic passes and creating magic through the midfield, United aren't underdogs anymore. Suddenly, they're on a level playing field with Barca, and a clash between them in the Champions League would undoubtedly pit the two most talented clubs against one another.

Sneijder's skills as a scorer and playmaker are just what United need to take down Barcelona.

Even with Sneijder, United are still facing a tall order. Barca's front three of Lionel Messi, David Villa and Alexis Sanchez ranks among the most explosive on the planet, while the midfield featuring Xavi and Andres Iniesta is one of the best in the world.

But with Sneijder, United trot out one of the few rosters on the planet capable of matching that talent level, and even exceeding it. Strikers Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov are all world class, while the midfield is full of a variety of talent, from Sneijder to wings Ashley Young, Nani, and Antonio Valencia, with youngster Tom Cleverly waiting in the wings.

The defense is as strong as any on the planet, courtesy of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in the middle, Patrice Evra and Rafael on the outside, with Phil Jones, Fabio and Chris Smalling coming off the bench. Goalkeeper David de Gea is still young, but has the potential to be a superstar between the sticks.

If that doesn't sound like a roster capable of beating the Spanish giants, I don't know what does.

At the very least, adding Sneijder makes United the heavy favorites to meet Barca and push them to the brink of elimination in the Champions League. While Ferguson's club might not be better than Barca, the talented midfielder levels the playing field in a way that no other player can.

He gives them the flexibility and skill in the midfield to match the Catalans, and with their excellent defensive unit, United would be capable of taking down the unbeatable Barcelona.

10 Players Linked to Late Gunners Transfer Move

1-Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill has been a target for Arsenal for quite a while now, but Bolton Wanderers are adamant he will not be sold for less than £17 million. He has only one year left on his contract at Bolton, and I'm sure they will not want to lose him for no fee next summer. The Daily Mail has reported that Arsenal are again chasing his signature with only a matter of days to go before the season starts.

Cahill has plenty of Premier League experience and of all the central defenders they are chasing he is probably the best candidate. It would seem that Arsene Wenger might be happy to wait one more year for Cahill, so that he can get him on a free transfer next summer. That might not be the best decision for Arsenal, but his notoriously frugal ways are hard for him to move away from.

I would prefer to see Cahill signed immediately, as I have very real fears that Arsenal's failure to defend set pieces will be a problem for them yet again. He has shown with Bolton that he has the exact qualities that Arsenal are looking for in a defender. He's still only 25 years old, and at six feet two inches he has the stature to impose himself on opposition strikers which Arsenal are missing all too often.

2-Christopher Samba

Christopher Samba is another player who Arsenal are said to have being tracking since the start of the transfer window. There is no doubt that he has the required physique to deal with set pieces, and his heading ability could also be a bonus in attacking situations for Arsenal too. He may not be as good a footballer as some of the other candidates for the role, but surely he doesn't have to play in every game.

His addition to the squad would be a real bonus when Arsenal come up against Stoke City, and other Premier League teams who try to exploit Arsenal's aerial weakness when they play each other. Samba is still only 27 years old, but he has plenty of Premier League experience and he would be a positive addition to the squad in my opinion. Whether Wenger considers him to be of "super quality" or not is another matter, and it could be the stumbling block to his signature.

The player himself has stated his desire to play in the Champions League, and Arsenal are one of only four English clubs capable of offering him that opportunity this coming season. If Arsenal were to sign Samba I think it would be a good move for both parties, but at the moment it doesn't look too likely.

4-Scott Dan

With Arsenal's pursuit of central defenders seemingly not reaping any rewards this summer they have recently been linked with Birmingham City's Scott Dann. Metro are currently reporting that Liverpool will pip Arsenal to his signature, as both clubs look to strengthen their defences with the new season approaching. I don't think Dann is the person to solve Arsenal's defensive woes, as I have said before but the prospect of him joining them seems very real.

When I last wrote about Dann a number of Birmingham fans were very quick to tell me that he was a much better player than I thought he was, but I stand by my original assessment. I don't think he is good enough to play at the highest level with Arsenal, but if he does sign I do hope he proves me wrong.

5-Per Mertesacker

Per Mertesacker is yet another central defender who has been linked with Arsenal for quite a while now. If the report in the Daily Mail is to believed he has issued a come and get me plea to Arsenal, and his club are prepared to let him leave as he has entered the last year of his contract. He would be available a fairly reasonable price compared to the prices being quoted for English central defenders.

Mertesacker would seem to fit the bill for an Arsenal team which so obviously needs a commanding central defender. He six feet and six inches tall, and he's commanding in the air as well as being good on the ball. He isn't the quickest player, but Arsenal have plenty of other defenders with pace.

I think he would be an excellent purchase for Arsenal at €6 million, but it's Wenger's opinion which matters most of all. If Arsenal really want Mertesacker there is nothing to stop them signing him, and he will become a player very soon if that is so.

6-Bruno Ecuele

Bruno Ecuele was signed by Lorient last summer to replace Laurent Koscielny, who had been sold to Arsenal. He's an international central defender who plays for Gabon, and he has impressed in his first season with Lorient. He's still only 23 years old, and his price tag should not be prohibitive for Arsenal.
Give Me Football have reported an interest in the player from Arsenal, but there's no way of knowing what truth is in it. He's only 6'1", and his relative lack of experience might mean he's a long shot for Arsenal to sign.

Bruno Ecuele was signed by Lorient last summer to replace Laurent Koscielny, who had been sold to Arsenal. He's an international central defender who plays for Gabon, and he has impressed in his first season with Lorient. He's still only 23 years old, and his price tag should not be prohibitive for Arsenal.

Give Me Football have reported an interest in the player from Arsenal, but there's no way of knowing what truth is in it. He's only 6'1", and his relative lack of experience might mean he's a long shot for Arsenal to sign.

7-Phil Jagielka

Phil Jagielka is an English international central defender who would probably be a very good acquisition for Arsenal this summer. He's not the tallest player, but his organisational skills might go a long way towards sorting out Arsenal's defensive woes. His ability in the air is very good for a player six feet tall, and his positional play is excellent too.
However, Arsenal have already had a bid for him turned down, and Everton are looking for a lot of money for a player who will be 29 next week. I can't see Arsenal parting with €20 million for a player of that age, despite the fact that he might be the player they need to improve their defensive record. There are other options open to Arsenal at a better price, and I think they will opt for one of them.

8-Juan Mata

Arsenal's interest in signing Juan Mata from Valencia has been known for quite a while now, and if the reports are true they have already had a bid turned down. With Samir Nasri looking close to an exit from Arsenal, Mata is seen as the man to possibly replace him. The chances of Mata signing for Arsenal will probably depend on Arsenal managing to offload Nasri for a fee of at least €25 million.
Mata is only 23 years old, but he looks to have a very bright future in football. He's already a full Spanish international despite the huge range of excellent players Spain have to choose from. He has starred at every underage level for Spain and his capture would be an excellent signing for Arsenal in my opinion.
Give Me Football have reported Arsenal are again interested in signing Mata, and they will move for him with the fee they receive when they sell Nasri. His signature could leave Arsenal with a formidable attacking line, as they have already signed Chamberlain and Ryo Miyaichi has had his work permit approved too.

9-Douglas Costa

Arsenal are believed to have had a bid for Douglas Costa turned down by his club Shakhtar Donetsk in June of this year. It has been rumoured recently that they will lodge another bid, but with Chamberlain, Gervinho and possibly Mata all arriving the chances are he won't be moving to the Emirates. He is a player with an awful lot of ability, and he would be an excellent addition to almost any team in my opinion.

He won't be 21 until next month and he still has a lot to learn in the game, but he has made excellent progress since joining Shakhtar Donetsk last year. If Arsenal are in need of yet another attacking player they could well decide to move for him, but it will depend on other players leaving. I think there is still a chance of Arsenal signing him, but possibly next January if their squad needs a boost at that stage.


Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner has revealed he has agreed to join another club, and he will leave when the two clubs have agreed a price. If Arsenal do sell Bendtner they might well find themselves a little short in attack, and Odemwingie is a player who could possibly fill the void. He was linked with them at the start of the transfer window, and there's a possibility West Brom will be willing to sell if they manage to capture Shane Long from Reading.

Odemwingie had a very good season for West Brom last season, and he would certainly be a good alternative to Robin van Persire if the Dutchman were to pick up an injury. Marouane Chamakh filled in admirably for RVP in the first half of last season, but he has been far from impressive since then. Arsenal need a striker who can fill in for RVP when he is injured or needs to be rested, and Odemwingie could be that man.

He turned 30 last month and at that age Odemwingie might prefer to stay with a club where he is guaranteed first team football. On the other hand Arsenal are a team qualifying for trophies, and he might like the chance to win a few of them at this stage in his career.