You know it’s nearly October when rumours for the new-year transfer window begin to emerge, and when it gets bandied about that two deadliest enemies will face off for the signature of a hot prospect, excitement brews and bubbles.
Manchester United and Liverpool each have their own charms, which the not so neutral fan may be quick to identify (nicely, in the comments box below please!), but both have started their seasons with relative indifference.
Manchester United could be top, but have shown vulnerability at the back, costing them points. As for Liverpool, they have made their worst start to a season in 18 years, and face potential (but still improbable) administration.
Although some sacrifices may be made along the way, both clubs should still be able to talk the talk come January, but who will walk the walk as they prepare to fight over:
JUAN MANUEL MATA
Mata is presently the hot property of Valencia after the 22-year old winger scored 14 goals in 44 appearances during 2009/10, and 13 in 45 in 2008/09. At present, Liverpool are looking for someone to really deliver down the wing, since there are presently rife rumours of Ryan Babel leaving Anfield for foreign shores.
His pace is akin to lightning, and with much trickery on the ball, Mata is exactly the sort of creative player the ailing Reds need at present. However, players of Mata’s calibre always need to play at the highest level, and if Liverpool don’t start picking up the points (or go into unthinkable administration) then Anfield will continue to host Europa League football.
It could only take one little nudge from Sir Alex Ferguson to send this promising youngster down the East Lancs road in the opposite direction.
Over the summer, just about every half decent Premier League club with two pennies to rub together (especially Chelsea) was linked with 17-year old Belgian striking sensation Romelu Lukaku. Two links persist in living on after the window slammed shut – those suggesting that his next stop is Anfield or Old Trafford.
For a teenager, his strike rate at senior level is quite impressive, on average scoring nearly every other game. He became the youngest ever goalscorer in all UEFA competitions after scoring against Ajax last year, and was top gun at the end of the 2009/10 Belgian SuperLig.
Naturally, his value skyrocketed, and with Michael Owen rumoured to be rejoining old boss Gerard Houllier at Aston Villa in the new year, Manchester United have few better candidates than Lukaku to fill Owen’s infrequently used boots.
Can Liverpool pull something out of the bag and prevent him from becoming part of Sir Alex Fergusons “babes” of the 2010’s? Given Liverpool’s somewhat blunted strike-force, they would be well advised to at least try.
DAVID DE GEA
Another Spaniard is being linked with both clubs, this one in the form of 19-year old goalkeeper David De Gea, who currently plies his trade for Athletico Madrid. Last year, his impressive form for the ‘B’ team in the Spanish Second Division coincided with a downturn in the form of first choice goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo.
Since the latter half of 2009/10, De Gea has been the first choice custodian, even helping his team win the inaugural 2009/10 Europa League. He has successfully continued his form into 2010/11, helping Athletico beat Inter Milan in the European Super Cup with a 2-0 win (and a confidence boosting clean sheet against the Champions of Europe).
He was unfortunate to be cut out of the World Cup winning Spain squad, but is now a target for several of the best clubs in the world. Regarding a possible January transfer to Manchester United, De Gea said:
“I have a contract until 2013, and when the year is out we’ll see if things are going well, and those who have to talk (about an extension) will talk.”
With United’s Edwin van der Sar now pushing 40 and Liverpool’s Pepe Reina not his usual reliable self this season, an all out war for the Spanish stopper is more than probable in the next transfer window.
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