There is perhaps no better summary of Manchester United’s current state than the fact that they are pursuing a 33-year-old striker, who only a year ago was playing in China and has health problems. well documented ego.
Even then, Marko Arnautovic is unsure whether to join the Red Devils as Serie A side Bologna rejected United’s AU$11m offer.
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As if we needed another reminder of the famous club’s alarming downfall. Much of that failure, leading experts say, can be attributed to the club’s dire state of recruitment, particularly in Erik ten Hag’s first transfer window since taking over at Old Trafford.
Lisandro Martinez (Ajax, $96m), Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord, $24m) and Christian Eriksen (free) entered the arrivals hall at Manchester Airport.
A punter doesn’t need a rocket science degree to recognize that the three signings weren’t exactly dug from obscurity or from various databases maintained by United’s recruitment team.
Ten Hag coached Martinez last year, Eriksen played for Ajax and the manager knows Malacia for his Eredivisie exploits.
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At a time when clubs are poring over data and statistics to try to find the right player, all three signings exude a whiff of footballing comfort.
Ten Hag and Arnautovic even briefly worked together when they were at Dutch club FC Twente.
Even the so far ill-fated pursuit of Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong – whom ten Hag managed at Ajax – is further evidence that the United boss has gone for what he knows and dared not be bold in the market.
The Telegraph Jason Burt was candid in his analysis of United’s deals in the summer window so far.
“There’s just no other way to describe it,” Burt wrote.
“Recruitment is – and has been for some time – just terrible and while that indicates United’s brilliance is fading, it is also an indictment of those who oversaw it and whether they are good for the job.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds have been wasted and where is the strategy?
Income aside, the United striker’s situation has only cemented the club’s status as a laughing stock.
Against Brighton, the Red Devils started with Eriksen playing as a false nine with Marcus Rashford on the left, Bruno Fernandes operating in a central attacking midfield role and Jadon Sancho on the right.
The Seagulls had Danny Welbeck, a player sold by United in 2014, in charge of their line and he made it his personal mission to torment Harry Maguire in the United defence.
Meanwhile, Eriksen looked like a lost child at an airport as he simply didn’t know what to do until he was moved into a more familiar midfield role after half-time and showed significantly better.
Granted, ten Hag’s hand was forced given Anthony Martial’s injury and Cristiano Ronaldo’s glaring lack of fitness.
But, like Burt points out, United pinning their hopes on these two is a problem in itself.
“He (Martial) is injured but last season United desperately wanted him to stay at Sevilla – which would never happen – and an official said they would be happy to bring him back to France as long as he left the club. club,” Burt wrote. .
“Now he is the savior in attack.”
As for Ronaldo, his saga is one that Burt thinks “ten Hag has handled reasonably well but could become a millstone dragging him down if he has no one else to play in place of the runaway Portuguese. who can really score goals”.
The shortage of strikers is just another glaring example of a chaotic transfer plan that Athleticism Laurie Whitwell describes as “too often reactive”.
“United’s recruitment process is plagued by the decision and negotiations are stalled by rigidity,” Whitwell said.
“Prosecutions are too often reactive rather than proactive.
“Manchester City won the title and signed Erling Haaland. Liverpool came second and brought in Darwin Nunez.
“United finished sixth in their worst campaign in Premier League history and are trying to sign 33-year-old Marko Arnautovic. It looks like a travesty.”
Sure, there’s still time in the transfer window for ten Hag to prove he can broaden his horizons on transfer targets and it already looks like it’s happening, but is it for worthwhile goals?
Should United come back for Arnautovic, this move should cross the line.
But aside from his family, friends and perhaps a few patriotic Austrians who moonlight as United fans, there is unlikely to be a rush of people buying shirts with Arnautovic’s name on it. in the back.
Athleticism reported that United are working on a deal to bring midfielder Adrien Rabiot to the Juventus club as the Frenchman looks set to secure his dream Premier League move.
Yes, the same Rabiot whose mother yelled at Kylian Mbappe’s father when the star striker missed a penalty in the shootout that sent France crashing out of Euro 2020 against Switzerland.
A penny for Ms Rabiot’s thoughts as she sits in the stands at Old Trafford watching her son play, should the move materialize.
Then there are the rumors that United are in talks with Red Bull Salzburg over Slovenia striker Benjamin Sesko.
At just 19, one would expect Sesko to be ready to start and deliver immediately for the Red Devils.
How would he handle the exorbitant expectations of a fan base that demands success but hasn’t had much to brag about in recent years?
Even then, Sesko has no guarantee of joining United as reports state that Paris Saint-Germain have joined the race to sign the teenager and could leave ten Hags scrambling for options.
At some point, things will be better at the Theater of Dreams.
But for now, fans have to make do with the Theater of Nightmares and the club’s current transfer plans will ensure they last longer than anyone associated with the club would like.