There is no reason why Manchester United cannot bid for Rennes’ teenage sensation Eduardo Camavinga in this transfer window.
As was evidenced against Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday, the Red Devils are in desperate need of world class options who can play in defensive midfield, central midfield and also, ideally, in a box-to-box role.
Camavinga is able to do all of the above and at 18 years of age he has already posted some of the best statistics in world football across a range of skills associated with those roles.
Last season, Real Madrid were expected to be the eventual recipients of this prodigious talent, with figures in excess of £60 million being mentioned.
But distracted by their desire to land Kylian Mbappe, los Blancos are not pursuing the young Frenchman this time around and Rennes are becoming desperate to sell rather than lose him for free when his contract expires next summer.
Paris Saint Germain are also interested, but their acquisition of Lionel Messi has left them needing to sell players – and quite a few – before they can buy. And if they were to buy, United’s own Paul Pogba would probably be their priority.
Rennes’ coach Bruno Genesio has said it is ‘inconceivable’ that Camavinga will leave on a free next summer. He has to be sold in this window. His price has been slashed in half to around £25 – £30 million and his replacement, Dynamo Zagreb’s Lovro Majer, has been bought.
Given that United are known to be admirers of Camavinga, then, what are they waiting for?
However, this is surely a lame excuse. First, the funds for Sancho come from last summer’s budget, which was left unspent. Not only that, he was acquired for less than the £80 million allocated for that purpose last year, and the payments have been spread over five years.
Payments for £34 million Varane, similarly, have been spread over a number of years.
Furthermore, Chelsea’s purchase of Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan has seen United reap a £5.4 million sell-on fee and they are also due to receive the outstanding balance Inter owed on the player, some £47 million.
Simply put, if Inter are to settle their outstanding debt to United on Lukaku in full this summer, there is actually more transfer money coming in than going out in this window. And yet the club refuses to sanction the £25-£30 million transfer of arguably the best teenager in world football.
Wolves’ Ruben Neves is also available cheaply, at under £40 million, should a proven Premier League star seem like a safer option.
There has been much excitement over the signing of both Sancho and Varane, and rightly so, but as Manchester City sign Jack Grealish and bid for Harry Kane, and Chelsea sign Lukaku and go in for Declan Rice and Jules Kounde, the Red Devils are showing little ambition to catch up with their rivals.
We have been bombarded in the last week by news of a £20 million investment in ground improvements, but the timing of this is suspect and reeks of rhetoric, expectation management and manipulation by the club’s owners. Most of the work listed, including “cleaning the stands”, is simple maintenance.
Too many fans have been appeased by the two star purchases. The protests have stopped, the new shirts are being gobbled up from the megastore and once again, the club’s owners are getting away with massive under-investment and obfuscation.
As a number of pundits and journalists have said this week, United will fall short of a title challenge if they do not sign a world-class midfielder this summer.
What needs to be shouted from the rooftops is that they have absolutely no excuse for failing to do so.