Football: Man United mean business

Football: Man United mean business

Their season is almost over, but Manchester United are steadily drawing their plans together for the next campaign.

Under Sir Alex Ferguson, transfer rumours rarely leaked out of Carrington.

In this new spirit of glasnost, well-sourced stories are appearing everywhere, telling of United's search for a new generation of champions.

It seems that the club are desperate to make sure that everyone knows they have money to spend. And that they're not afraid to spend it.

At the top of the list is Southampton fullback Luke Shaw, who made his England debut earlier this season.

The Saints are insistent that they won't sell, but it's hard to see how a club that have just made heavy annual losses will resist a bid thought to be in the region of £30 million ($64m).

The only question is whether or not United can match the spending power of Manchester City and Chelsea.

Both of the cash-rich superpowers are interested in Shaw and the resultant wage war will not be pretty.

City and Chelsea have no compunction in spending over the odds for players. Will United dare to match these stakes?

They're certainly prepared to pay big bucks for Toni Kroos, but then the 24-year-old is a German international with a clutch of medals in his back pocket.

He's also the kind of midfielder who could single-handedly reinvigorate the Red Devils.

Kroos is contracted until 2015, but has put all negotiations for a new deal on hold until the end of the season.


Despite warnings from club president Franz Beckenbauer, he knows his value and is not prepared to settle for second best.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has said that the club will do all they can to keep him, but ultimately it's Kroos' decision.

United have indicated that they would be prepared to offer Kroos terms that would rival the enormous contract recently signed by Wayne Rooney.

That would put Kroos on approximately £260,000 per week.

A similar deal has been mooted for Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus.

So where is all the money coming from?

There has been much talk of an exodus in the summer.

Nemanja Vidic has already signed for Inter Milan, while Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand are both out of contract in July.

Shinji Kagawa, Javier Hernandez, Luis Nani, Anderson and Wilfried Zaha have all been linked with a move away from Old Trafford and none of them have covered themselves in glory in Moyes' debut season.

They all command high wages. None of them have done anything to suggest that they deserve them.

United, a well-run club as far as spending is concerned, will happily dispose of them.

Few of the existing players can have any guarantees of survival either.

Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young were all fined this week after they were spotted out in Manchester city centre on the night after United's Champions League exit.

While the players had been given time-off, they were not supposed to be out late within 48 hours of the tie.

The disciplinary action comes swiftly after another similarly motivated fine was handed down, this time to Chris Smalling.

While United's supporters suffer, United's players appear to be partying.

There is no guarantee that Moyes himself won't be leading this exodus.

United's owners are certainly concerned at this season's slump and it is rumoured that initial "sounding-out" approaches have been made to Louis van Gaal.

However, given United's desire to be seen as patient and the five years that remain on Moyes' contract, it seems unlikely that there will be a change in the dug-out this summer.

In the dressing room, it's a very different story.

This article was published on April 17 in The New Paper.

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