Throughout the past few weeks, there has been ongoing speculation that Manchester United have been negotiating with Brazilian club Sao Paulo to sign attacking midfielder Lucas Moura. United have reportedly offered a hefty €35 million for the 19-year-old, a bid that appears to have been rejected. Since the bid, United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed his interest in the midfielder, saying that negotiations are ongoing. It appears that a bid of at least €40 million will be necessary to secure the Brazilian’s signature, a staggering price that has many pundits and fans alike wondering whether an unproven commodity is worth such a fee.
While Moura may not be the finished product, one look on YouTube of his game action skills shows exactly why United are willing to pay as much as Tottenham are asking for a more proven player like Luka Modric. Moura has dazzling footwork, exceptional ball skills, and lightning speed. While he is known as a selfish player who sometimes lacks a finished product, no one doubts his potential. While Moura wouldn’t be a perfectly polished player at the moment, his skills, as well as his selfishness, brings to mind the attributes of an 18-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, whom United signed for €15 million in 2003. While United paid significantly less money for Ronaldo, considering the direction the transfer market has gone in terms of spending, and the fact that Ronaldo was in financial terms their best signing of the decade given his resale value, Moura’s fee is not that outrageous. While it is unlikely that Moura will ever become as complete a player as Ronaldo, he would provide the flair that Manchester United have missed since they sold their biggest superstar. While they have managed to maintain a high level of success since the sale of Ronaldo, United have distinctly lacked flair and stardust. While Wayne Rooney has become an exceptional goalscorer, Valencia has become an effective winger, and Nani has been brilliant at times, if consistently inconsistent, they have never really replaced Ronaldo. While it would be unfair to place such heavy expectations on Lucas Moura, if Ferguson were to sign him, United would finally have a player who truly catches the eye and who can put people in the stands single-handed.
It can be argued that Manchester United should focus on spending the €35-40 million they have available on a proven midfielder, a position that has been the focus of criticism even before Ronaldo’s departure. With the likes of Modric and Sneijder available for around that price, it would be easy to go for the safer option. However, both Modric and Sneijder are already in the prime of their careers and have likely reached their maximum potential. Moura, in contrast, could be a United mainstay for the next decade. While there is no doubt that Lucas Moura represents a risk considering the price tag, if United ever want to get back to the heights that Cristiano Ronaldo took them, he is there best chance to acquire a player who can lead them there.