In an uncharacteristic move, Alex Ferguson has had a massive £29 million bid for Sao Paolo star Lucas Moura rejected.
With Lucas set to feature regularly in the Olympics, Man Utd must be hoping they can seal a deal for the 19 year old as soon as possible, before his profile rises on the international scene.
United are in desperate need of some dynamism in central midfield. Giggs and Scholes, despite excellent seasons last campaign, cannot be expected to fill the central midfield on a permanent basis. Their declining mobility means that despite being useful, their main goal is to spread the ball out wide – sidestepping their inability to drive forward themselves.
Nani, Valencia and Young made a combined 30 assists last season, with Giggs making 8 and Rooney just 4; the centre of the pitch is not an area United rely on for goals, and this needs to change. Relying on wingers to this extent makes them one-dimensional, as shown in the 1-0 defeat to Wigan in March.
With a surprise 3-5-2 formation, Martinez’s wing-back nullified the threat of Valencia and Young, effectively stifling United’s only source of attacking threat. Ferguson will know that he needs to add some direct attacking thrust to his central midfield; this is where Lucas Moura comes in.
Lucas is a strong player, who loves to dribble with the ball through the middle of the pitch, using his excellent ball control and stocky build to drive through opposition defences. At only 19, he would initially make a great impact player at United, where he could offer the directness they crave when United find themselves ‘found out’ (such as the Wigan game last year).
The main problem with the Brazil starlet is his attitude. He is seen as unruly by those that manage him, infuriating coaches and fans alike with his selfishness and poor decision-making. His propensity to dribble through the centre when better options are available have led some critics to compare Lucas to Denilson and Lulinha; players that were billed highly but never lived up to their potential.
It is for this reason that a move to Man Utd would be so greatly in the player’s favour. Alex Ferguson is arguably the best manager in the world at individually coaching his players. Anderson, another expensive signing from Brazil, may not have ever reached the heights expected of him, but the way in which he has been transformed at Old Trafford speaks volumes about Ferguson’s ability to cage the expressiveness of Brazilian youngsters.
Initially signing as an attacking midfielder with pace and dribbling skills (not at all dissimilar to Lucas Moura) Anderson has been converted into a defensive midfielder, using his vision and strength to play a more conservative role in the side. However, many critics have claimed that Anderson has lost his flair, suggesting the youngster has virtually forgotten his technical skills and been diminished into a ball-winning midfielder. It will be interesting to see what Ferguson does with Lucas.
Another famous example of Ferguson instilling his wisdom on untamed talent is Cristiano Ronaldo. Like Lucas, Ronaldo was criticised for his unnecessary skill moves and selfishness, which were eventually beaten out of him by the Man Utd coaching team. It is the hard schooling of Ferguson that an unruly player like Lucas Moura craves.
The amount of money he is willing to pay for Lucas suggests a confidence in his ability to make him into a world star; it is his strength and determination that separate him from the majority of the young Brazilian’s that grab headlines in their youth before fading away. His power also suggests an ability to adapt to the English league.
Although representing the exact player type United need to help them next season, it is unlikely he would feature regularly, as a 19 year old new to the country. In time however, he has all the makings to emerge from Man Utd as the one of the world’s best players.
Alex Keble is the editor of www.thechalkboard.org.uk, a website that gives in-depth tactical analysis of the weekend’s football action, offering match reports with statistics, diagrams, and intellectual insight into the modern game. Follow @ak_chalkboard.Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!