4630: Could Giuseppe Rossi be the pi
by : Antony Melvin
Of the ‘big four’ clubs it is clear which one has the money and the nerve to actually spend it in the early part of the window. But their moves have left Manchester United financially stretched and although they would like to move for a top European striker like Fernando Torres there is little chance that funds would be released to buy a £25m striker. But could United be starting the process to offload some players to play in this game?
The other three teams in the big four have different agendas.
Liverpool probably have as much money as United to spend this summer, somewhere between £40m and £50m – but that is where the similarity ends. Sir Alex Ferguson has never been concerned about the cost of his big money players and has a good track record in spending big. The list of £10m+ players (three more may arrive this summer) - Ferdinand, Veron, van Nistelrooy, Carrick, Yorke, Stam, Rooney and Ronaldo - contains only Veron as a rank bad decision; and even he was sold on for £15m.
Whilst the rumours that Liverpool are ready to spend £27m on Fernando Torres gather pace – until it happens there remains a doubt that Rafa Benitez is prepared to put his job and reputation on the line for one mega signing. Rafa Benitez does give the impression that he would be more comfortable getting in three £10m players to improve the squad than chucking the majority of his pot on one player.
Chelsea have been building up their youth team over the past few years and after spending over £300m on first team players in barely four years it is probably appropriate to now take stock, trim the floppy fringe and allow the youth players recruited from around the country (some after paying significant compensation charges) some room to move into the first team.
Arsenal having sold Henry for £16m are building a transfer pot of up to £30m – but Arsene Wenger hasn’t made his reputation through big money signings and there must be doubts about whether he will even have spent £16m before next season. Unless he makes a signature signing other targets may be reluctant to sign up given the doubts over Wenger's tenure in any event.
Back at United there has been considerable fuss about the possibility of Fabio Quagliarella moving to Old Trafford. But the pundits have consistently ignored Giuseppe Rossi. The fact that United already have a young Italian (American) striker knocking about on one of the myriad of loan deals that have successfully reduced the wage bills at Old Trafford is significant especially given his ability. Giuseppe Rossi matched Quagliarella in the second half of Serie A last season, and scored nine Serie A goals for Parma after a less successful loan switch to Newcastle.
Rossi was originally on Parma's books but moved to Manchester at 16 and after returning to the Gialloblu last season he is now thought to be worth about £6m. The Guardian (27.06.07) echoed The Times (26.06.07) is suggesting that striker has been subject to a £6m bid from Parma. Other than the interest from Parma there have been some rumours of interest from Juventus (Various 17.06.07), a vague Spanish loan deal (Various 12.06.07) and The Daily Mail (18.06.07) also suggested that Rossi was a target for Sunderland.
Rossi himself is widely quoted as wanting to return to Old Trafford to prove himself and with Alan Smith moving towards the exit and Louis Saha constantly unavailable Rossi could return with his reputation intact as understudy to Wayne Rooney - or even paired with him in attack. Parma struggled to avoid relegation last season and if Rossi has to choose between a relegation candidate and one of the best teams in Europe it is a choice based on how much first team football he wants. If he wants 40-50 games then he needs to move on, but if he wants 20 games to prove himself at the top then he must stay.
If Rossi remains at Old Trafford then a move for Torres looks unlikely. A set of forwards containing Rooney, Saha, Ronaldo, Rossi, Solskjaer and Dong looks strong enough for the new season.
Three players are likely to leave Old Trafford in the coming weeks, Alan Smith for about £6m, Kieran Richardson for about £3m and Phil Bardsley for £2m. And that money could purchase a player like Quagliarella or Gudjohnsen. But add in the sale of a few of the lesser lights for nominal fees amd a couple more big money possibilities like Pique returning to Spain (£7m) and Rossi to Italy (£6m) and United could build a £25m transfer pot. All in all United could raise £25m in the coming weeks sparking the possibility that a big money bid for Fernando Torres or Samuel Eto'o can still be made.
But the future of Rossi is the pivot, if he stays then there is no reason and little money to fund a big money move.
Fernando Torres returns from his holiday in Polynesia on 10 July - his transfer is unlikely to be concluded before then. If United can free up £25m or so in the next two weeks then the transfer snatch of the summer becomes a possibility.