Come Sunday morning there will be new European club champions. Both Barcelona and Manchester United have reached the top spot of European competition three times, and are going for the fourth, however whatever the result, Ferguson’s team has been made the underdog for a reason. Despite finishing nine points clear at the top of the Premier League this season, compared to Barcelona’s four in La Liga, and reaching the Champions League final an impressive three times in four years, United are still considered a weaker side than Barca at present.
It can be easily argued that this claim is wholly justified too. With Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi the three nominees for the 2010 Ballon D’Or, as well as Barcelona’s recent dominance of club competition in Spain and the fact that nearly the entire first team, apart from Messi, Daniel Alves and possibly Mascherano, won the World Cup last summer it’s not difficult to see why.
If United are to continue their success, both at home and in Europe, and to send shivers down the spines of opposition managers, just as Barcelona do in current world football, then strengthening the squad this summer is a necessity. However one factor Ferguson should consider is whether to buy less experienced but promising youngsters, who can retain or even grow in value, as he has done in the past, or adopt a safer policy of attempting to acquire assured and proven quality.
The most immediate appointment has to be the new No. 1 at Old Trafford as replacement for the retiring forty year old Edwin Van Der Sar, who will hang up his gloves after the Champions League final on Saturday. Van Der Sar was one of Ferguson’s older purchases, arriving at Old Trafford in the summer of 2005 for a reported mere £2 million. Having won seven trophies with United, another possible today, three Best European Goalkeeper awards and UEFA Club Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009, it will be a huge ask for whoever does attempt to fill the Dutch mans’ shoes.
One man touted as the main United target to succeed Van Der Sar is Athletico Madrid’s David De Gea. If speculation is accurate then the deal to take De Gea to Old Trafford will cost the Manchester club a reported £17 million and with Ferguson confirming that the transfer will go through in the coming weeks, it seems the Scot is sticking to his policy of buying young. Nevertheless, is this the correct direction to take in this instance?