"Will he, or won't he" fills the news void: Will Phil Jones sign with United? Why, he already has! No he hasn't, there was a last minute snag with Venkys that's holding up the deal. Will Ashley Young sign? He's getting married this week, and will sign when he comes back. How about Nani? He's trade bait for Inter, to be offered in a player-and-cash deal for Wesley Sneijder. Luka's not going anywhere says Harry, but much to Arsene's dismay, Samir is playing footsie with Sir Alex. I've written about all this transfer nonsense before, but this past week has revealed the truth once more: there's part fact, part fiction, and part pure fantasy and negotiating leverage at play here -- Welcome to Silly Season, in which the fans and "In the Know" pundits play football manager as they critique, criticize and attempt to cajole their teams into action or inaction in the summer transfer market. In part this happens because something needs to fill the gaping maw that claims the term "news" during the slower summer months. With the hilarious and appropriately-named "Weinergate" hogging the headlines over here in the States, and no League games occurring to grab a true fan's attention, rumor and speculation suffice just fine. So to add to the witches brew of speculation, fact and opinion, I'll add a few thoughts of my own to the mix:
On Phil Jones: From everything I've read, this appears to be a "done deal." I know everyone out there is excited about the future all-England pairing of Smalling and Jones at United, but this signing mystifies me a bit. It does appear to be a nice bit of business, and maybe SAF felt his hand was forced a bit early by Liverpool's desire to sign Jones, but is center back really the place Manchester United needed to strengthen? If we have a limited transfer kitty -- which all teams bar City and Real have -- do we really want or need to spend £17mm of it on this position? I can't see this one helping us catch Barca any time in the next three years..... On David De Gea: This one, too, appears a done deal. As I've written previously, I suspect this deal has been completed for several months now, with De Gea and United playing coy so as not to piss off the Atleti faithful toward the end of the season. There's no way SAF would let such an important positional signing go unresolved to this late date, and as regular readers of this site know, I've been clamoring for this signing since the very first day I heard VDS was retiring. On Ashley Young: Another done deal if you believe what most people are saying, and another one in which I'm not as jazzed as your average United fan. Maybe it's an English thing, but I'm not convinced on Young. Sure, I think he's a steady signing, and we need a left winger, but is Ashley Young truly "United quality?" I guess time will tell, and I'll be happy to admit I'm wrong at a later date, but this one leaves me a bit flat so far..... On Central Midfield: THE key signing of the summer, and unfortunately the one which is also murkiest at this point. If I had to rate the suspects-to-date myself, I'd go with the following order: 1) Modric, 2) Nasri, and 3) Sneijder. The first two are already proven commodities in the EPL, and just that little bit younger than the 27 year old Dutchman. They also play more of a creative playmaking role, the one key for which United has been searching for a number of years in my opinion.
Lacking that little bit of vision in the middle with the ageing of Paul Scholes, Anderson has not -- and does not -- seem capable of stepping up his game to provide the answer. So to the transfer market we're going, and based on countless hours of watching and admiring, I'd go for Modric in a heartbeat -- and I've been consistent in this for the last two or three years. Nasri popped up and demanded to be noticed this past season, and if the Frenchman is capable of hitting those heights again in the coming years, we should sign him up. But Sneijder took a step back this season in my opinion, so I'm not 100 percent sold. In addition, Sneijder likes to play just behind the forward line, and would crowd much of the space that was occupied so successfully in the latter half of this past season by a certain Wayne Rooney. So, on the whole, I'd prefer Modric or Nasri, with the latter probably more of a reality than the former. Whatever the move, this signing and the DeGea signing will define our success next season. Ashley Young could potentially play a role, while Phil Jones would appear to be more of one for the future. In the meantime, until the signings are officially announced, it's back to rumors and speculation full-time for this armchair manager. This is farlieonfootie for June 12.