The Blog

Ronaldo, Bale, Cavani, Pogba? Why Manchester United Should Avoid All Four This Summer

It is entirely conceivable that a man could spend £20 on an Asos equivalent and still look his sharpest. It is also entirely conceivable that Manchester United could be restored to their rampant old selves without Ronaldo, Bale, Cavani or Pogba.

Manchester United do not need another £150million makeover this close-season, in the same way that investing £150 in a shirt from Vivienne Westwood does not guarantee the successful wooing of women on a weekend blowout.

It is entirely conceivable that a man could spend £20 on an Asos equivalent and still look his sharpest. It is also entirely conceivable that Manchester United could be restored to their rampant old selves without Ronaldo, Bale, Cavani or Pogba.

In terms of current standing in world football, those four are the undoubted stand-outs of an ambitious summer shopping list drawn by those who spend far too much time playing Fifa Ultimate Team.

These are probably the same people who are willing to write off 19-year-old defender Luke Shaw after one season at Old Trafford.

But courting these sorts of players, at those sorts of prices - even the cheapest on that list, Edinson Cavani, is likely to set you back at least £50m - has rarely been the done thing at United, and history suggests they have no reason to change tact.

In the '90s, as United replaced Liverpool as England's dominant footballing force, the Red Devils built their success on a freak core of youth players; guided by a £1.2million signing from Leeds named Eric Cantona.

It was maintained by the hoovering up of fellow domestic talents, Roy Keane, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke - not too dissimilar to the way Bayern Munich currently operate - in addition to thrifty overseas additions; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, for example, and earlier, Peter Schmeichel. All five were Champions League winners with United.

Later, Jaap Stam and Ruud van Nistelrooy proved bargains at a combined £30million from PSV Eindhoven; the latter arriving at a time when Real Madrid were spending £48million on Zinedine Zidane alone. Both won the same amount of league titles at their respective clubs. Zidane did, however, lead Real to the European Cup in 2002.

Having claimed their third straight league title a year earlier, Europe's elite competition became United's main craving. In order to bridge the gap, they laid out then Premier League record fee - £28.1million - on Juan Sebastian Veron, who like Zidane prior to his big money transfer, was one of the stars of Italy's Serie A.

But Veron never reached such heights at United, or anywhere else, really, for that matter, and a year after the Argentine's arrival, a burnt Sir Alex Ferguson returned to his trusted formula and acquired Rio Ferdinand from Leeds.

Between 2001, when Veron was signed, and a year ago, when United broke ranks to sign Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, nearly every incoming transfer has followed one of two paths; proven Premier League star, or youthful investment from either at home or overseas. Football's elite players drew little more than a passing glance from Old Trafford.

As United's old-guard entered the twilight of their careers midway through the last decade, Ferguson turned to youth, investing in teenagers Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney; the two bedrocks of the Scot's second Champions League success in 2008.

In the meantime, the signings of Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia proved shrewd, while David de Gea has been an outstanding servant at such a young age and will one day - perhaps soon - make the club a lot of money. Robin van Persie was the icing on the cake.

Manchester United today are much like the Manchester United of the mid-2000s. Louis van Gaal's new team is currently under construction and the right players need to be sought. Gary Neville believes that three new recruits are required: a central defender, midfielder and winger. I would offer that the emergence of Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in fact lessens the need for a central midfielder, and a right-back should be considered instead.

Nathaniel Clyne is a likely addition in that department, with PSV's Memphis Depay a reported wing target. United could afford both in exchange for Cavani. They could stick the cost of a defender on top and still not get anywhere near the fee required for Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo. There's four years difference - in the Dutchman's favour - between Depay and Bale. In four years time Depay could be as good; at 20 percent of the price right now.

Signing players direct from the Eredivisie became something of a faux pas in the late noughties - Mateja Kezman, Afonso Alves and Giorgios Samaras no doubt contributed to that - but United's own Daley Blind is evidence that Dutch produce can again be trusted.

You could add Spurs' Christian Eriksen to that argument, and who can forget Luis Suarez; a bargain at £22million.

In short, United need not seek those who are most in vogue this summer. Instead, they should consider what made them successful in the first place; finding the less courted talents and making them fashionable.

For more fan views or to join the conversation visit

Before You Go