Logic Dictates That Manchester United Will Not Add A ‘Marquee’ Signing In January

The madness of the January transfer window is about to begin and clubs are already being linked with moves to improve their squads. Most experts would agree that Manchester United is the club that has the largest holes to fill. The club’s failures to add quality to its midfield/defense during the summer transfer window is well-documented and most feel that United must spend heavily in January if they are to have any chance at finishing in the top four; or as title contenders.

Premier League legend and television pundit Alan Shearer has voiced his opinion on what Manchester United needs to do in order to remain as the top club in England, as well as one of the major forces in Europe. He recently told The Sun: “I would keep midfield duo Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher in the squad. But really, they need another four or five top-quality players to be able to go straight into this team to get them back in the mix at home and in Europe. That means an outlay of £100million-plus. I know January is a difficult time to get players in, but they have to try and if not, then they must do so in the next window. The noises from the boardroom are that the money is there. Well, it needs to be spent. The days of this team being regarded among the best in Europe are a world away and that is where United should be.”

The key points of Shearer’s statement are buried within his message: “They need another four or five top-quality players to be able to go straight into this team” and “January is a difficult time to get players in.”

You will hear these statements repeated over and over during the next month, but rarely will the media or the fans put the proper thought behind any transfer speculation their club is linked to. Fans will get caught up in the story and won’t think things through logically; and the media will take advantage of this thought process while pumping out ‘fresh’ rumors each day.

The hard facts are, the time for clubs to bring in players was during the first window; preferably early in the summer. That way the player could have a preseason and a handful of games to get acclimated to his manager, teammates, the league, his living situation, a new culture, new climate, etc. That adjustment period is huge in regards to how a player gels with his new club; it takes time.

Manchester City got the majority of their transfer business done early in the summer window and are just now (in recent weeks) hitting their form on the road as well as at home. Tottenham are still ‘struggling’ with their new players, so much so that it resulted in their manager being fired.

It takes time for players to understand a manager, a manager to understand his players, teammates to understand one another, and most importantly, it takes time for players to adjust to a new league.

Whether or not you consider the Premier League as the best league in the world, or the most competitive league in the world, doesn’t matter. What can’t be argued is the Premiership is very fast and extremely physical. Other European league share similar characteristics to the Premier League, but they don’t have all of them. So it isn’t guaranteed that a player coming in from La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga is going to hit the ground running once they arrive at an English club.

If a club does bring in a player during the January window, there is no time for that player to adjust. He HAS to hit the ground running because there are only 18 games (maybe less) before the league fixtures run out. The odds of finding a player to fit seamlessly into a squad are remote.

Another reason why January is a difficult time to bring players in is because the ‘marquee’ players at big clubs are in the middle of their seasons. Most are competing for league titles and/or are involved in Europe. At this point of the year, why would the player want to leave? And most importantly, why would a club’s owner (board of directors) want to sell one of their best players while the team is competing for silverware?

Take for example Manchester United and one of its most rumored transfers: Atletico Madrid’s attacking midfielder Koke.

Atletico Madrid is currently tied with Barcelona at the top of La Liga after seventeen games; only separated by goal difference. The Atleti are on pace to accumulate more than 100 points in the Primera Division, have already beaten Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, and were one of only three teams to finish the Champions League group stages undefeated.

Right now, Atletico Madrid are one of the top five clubs in Europe (some would argue that they are the third best team behind Bayern Munchen and Barcelona).

Over the past four seasons, Atletico Madrid has won two Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, and a Copa del Rey title. The club has had a vision of where it wants to be and has been building towards it for years. They have sold players in the past, but only after holding on to that player until the club felt it had a suitable replacement lined up.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was rebuffed for years while trying to sign a young Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid. And just this past summer, Liverpool was keen on signing Diego Costa and had offered to pay his buyout clause. But the Atleti turned them down because they had sold Falcao to Monaco, and Costa was now going to be the ‘point man’ of their attack.

Koke is hugely important to the club’s success. He makes up the “spine” of Atletico Madrid along with goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defensive midfielder Gabi and striker Diego Costa. He has been compared to Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso; he is a major talent who has been described by his manager Diego Simeone as “irreplaceable”. The connection between Koke and La Liga’s leading scorer Diego Costa (19 goals in 17 league matches; 23 goals in 23 competitive matches) is ‘umbilical’ because Koke is assisting on 90% of Costa’s goals. Koke is robust and could cope with the physical nature of the Premier League.

If you were the on the board of Atletico Madrid, why would you sell this player in January? Why risk losing a player who can directly help the club topple Barcelona? Or risk selling the player who could lead you to Champions League glory?

(For those of you who are going to comment about Atletico Madrid’s financial problems, the club has been in debt for a few years. They have had a structure in place to make payments every year. As recently as September 2013, Atletico Madrid paid £42.6 million ($70.2 million) to the Spanish Tax Authority, thus refinancing their outstanding tax debt and paying in installments in the future. So the club is fine for this season.)

If Koke is eventually sold, it would be during the summer. And it would be for a fee that would rival the one Real Madrid paid Manchester United for Ronaldo (£80 million/$131.6 million).

Another rumored Manchester United transfer is Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus. The media and fans on Twitter will tell you that Dortmund has dropped out of the German title race and are ready to sell.


Borussia Dortmund are in fourth place in the Bundesliga and trail league-leading Bayern Munchen by a hefty 12 points. But they are also holding on to the last Champions League spot in their league (two points above Wolfsburg and four points from Hertha Berlin/Schalke) and are currently in the Last 16 of the European competition (finishing on top of their group).

So why would Borussia Dortmund sell one of their best players in January? To make it harder on themselves to finish in the top four of the Bundesliga? Or to upset any chance of progressing further in the Champions League? How would Dortmund’s fans react to a decision like that?

The last example of a potential marquee signing will be Cruzeiro’s (Brazil) Everton Ribeiro. This is the kind of player who will pop on to the media’s radar from time to time.

Ribeiro is a very good player and would be a fantastic signing for Manchester United. He’s a young, attacking midfielder that has already been named Brazil’s player of the year by the Brazilian Football Confederation (an award once presented to Barcelona’s Neymar).

But once again, he would have to adjust to the speed and physicality of the Premier League in a short period of time while also adjusting to a completely unique climate and culture. To ask a player from the Brazilian league to arrive and seamlessly adjust to playing in England (and Europe) is a huge ask.

Ribeiro is a summer target.

He has also stated that he is staying at Cruzeiro this season. Ribeiro recently told the Brazilian press: “I’ll present myself at Cruzeiro on January 6th to have a good pre-season and another great year at Cruzeiro. I don’t know what will happen after Libertadores. Football is very dynamic.”

For those who don’t know, the Copa Libertadores begins in early January 2014, runs until the summer, and is the pinnacle of South American football. Players from this part of the world do not turn down an opportunity to play in this competition. Ribeiro will be staying for this season but has left the door open for a move next summer.

The player is set to stay for this season and Cruzeiro is not going to sell Brazil’s player of the year before the Copa Libertadores. Their fans would never allow Cruzeiro’s board to let Ribeiro leave before such an important event in South American football.

Those are just a few names, but there are plenty more; Everton’s Ross Barkley has become the new ‘hot’ transfer link.

Take these suggestions every time you hear, or read, of a new “rumored” transfer target.

Ask yourself:

-If you were the “selling” club: “Why would I sell this player? Does it make sense to let him leave at this time of the year? How would his loss effect my club season? How would my fans react?”

-If you were the “buying” club: “Will this player be able to fit in seamlessly with my team? If not seamlessly, how fast will his addition pay off for the club?”

Manchester United supporters will not want to hear this, but it’s the truth. The club’s failure to engineer deals during the summer transfer window has left David Moyes with the options solely on his current roster. There will be no “star’ signings in January. The best United can do is build a relationship with a club and hope to it leads to an eventual summer deal.

There is enough quality on United’s squad to compete this season. But because of the club’s failure during the first transfer window, the current squad has no room for error; or to underperform like they did during the early part of the season.

David Moyes and his players are going to have to repeat the performances United fans have seen over the past few weeks in order to make up for Manchester United’s lack of activity over the summer.

There won’t be any marquee arrivals at Old Trafford in January.

11 thoughts on “Logic Dictates That Manchester United Will Not Add A ‘Marquee’ Signing In January”

  1. “Manchester United supporters will not want to hear this, but it’s the truth. The club’s failure to engineer deals during the summer transfer window has left David Moyes with the options solely on his current roster. There will be no “star’ signings in January.”

    A lot of United fans actually understand this. So this is nothing new and only fools refuse to accept this as a fact.

    One more reason that January is not good for signing marquee player: the majority of them have been cup tied in competitions. So you will only get them to play in the Premiership.

    1. Have you been on Twitter lately? Man United fans are linking every player with a move in.

      And you might as well forget about explaining that a player is “cup tied”. It just won’t matter to some fans.

  2. Shearer is a muppet but he’s actually right about ManU. They need to revamp their entire midfield. And Koke is just a pipe dream. I saw a story on Twitter that said ManU have already tabled a bid of £30 million for him. If that’s true they’re about £50 million short. Like this article said he’s worth Ronaldo money.

  3. Alan Shearer talks out his butt, much like this article. While I agree that Jan signings are highly unlikely, the idea that the player “HAS” to hit the ground running is a nonsense. Vidic and Evra were both Jan signings and took a full season to come good.

    United does not think like that and no matter how “desperate” teams think United are they will not pay over the odds again like we did with Fellaini who was most definitely a panic buy.

    1. Man United weren’t staring up at the five teams when they brought in Vidic and Evra. For them to buy now the player better be ready to contribute. They’re just going to have to make due with the players they have until the summer.

      1. You are right and I am an idiot, United were in 2nd place, wait hold on, they were trailing Chelsea by 13 points. Which is more than the lead Arsenal currently lead by.

        As I said nonsense comment to say the player “HAS” to hit the ground running.

        1. Wongo, you just made his point for him. United are in sixth place. They are chasing a Champions League spot right now. Whoever they bring in better help them win and fast.

          They were in second place when they brought in Evra and Vidic. Their only concern was catching Chelsea because they were already holding a Champions League spot.

          Big difference.

          And no one called you an idiot.

        2. United finished that season in second place and Vidic and Evra had their difficulties. The club held their league position.

          If United bring in players now and hold their current position, it will be money poorly spent. Whoever they bring in better help them have a better record than Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton. Because those are the teams who will be fighting it out for the final few CL spots this year.

  4. Telegraph Sport mentioned Koke and Reus as possible arrivals at Man United a few days ago.

    Can’t forget that Ibrahimovic is coming to Celtic.

    Anything to sell some papers. Get ready for a month straight of this nonsense.

  5. Yeah….I tend to agree. There are just boatloads of reasons why January transfers are hard.

    If the player isn’t ready to contribute NOW, you might as well wait to sign the player for less during the summer.

    And for the players that are for sale, United has to demonstrate that they will spend more than the other big clubs….and that is something they have not done in years.

    The ONLY things I see supporting a United January move is that (a) they could use a little help to get into the Top 4 and (b) they are sometimes playing Anderson in midfield. So, if they pay a premium for a January transfer, but that player is better than Anderson and it gets them into Champion’s League, then that probably more than covers the premium of the January transfer. Just adding serviceable depth to the midfield would be an asset right now.

    1. Plus….one thing I forgot is that United MIGHT be able to sell a few spare parts. Nani and Kagawa aren’t helping them all that much. Neither is going to bring a king’s ransom, but if you could flip them into one decent midfielder, that wouldn’t be a bad deal.

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