Manchester United: Why Javi Martinez was needed more than Robin van Persie
On Wednesday German giants Bayern Munich activated the mammoth release clause in Javi Martinez’s contract and will pay a reported €40 million to Athletic Bilbao for the Spanish starlet’s signature.
Such a high figure for a player who has accumulated a mere seven caps for his national side could seem a tad excessive, but make no mistake, Martinez is a wonderful player who has a long future in the Spanish national team ahead of him and will give Bayern Munich an immediate injection of steel in midfield – the type of steel Manchester United continue to lack.
With the acquisition of Robin van Persie the Old Trafford hierarchy have allayed some of the United fans’ fears, at least temporarily, over the club's ability to compete in the transfer market, but was a new star striker as necessary a purchase as other positions in need of investment?
For more than a while now, United have been accused of being ‘brittle’ and lacking leadership in the centre of the pitch, even bullied at times, as was the case against Everton. Michael Carrick has become a decent defensive midfielder but still lacks the drive United crave and isn’t capable of grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck when a close contest is in need of a leader. And Darren Fletcher, possibly the only player within United’s ranks who possesses the attributes in question, is in danger of seeing his career ended before he has reached his peak due to his debilitating battle with ulcerative colitis and has become somewhat the forgotten man recently after becoming a key figure until his illness struck.
With the capture of Shinji Kagawa United addressed one issue in the squad, which was a lack of creativity. The Japanese playmaker appears to have adjusted to life in the Premier League well and at £12 million looks an absolute steal, but such was the need for reinforcements in midfield the team still lacks a driving force in the engine-room and the need for a box-to-box player appears to have been overlooked in favour of the exciting, but costly and less necessary, transfer of the 29 year old van Persie.
Furthermore, ironically the combined purchases of both van Persie and Kagawa seem to have caused Sir Alex Ferguson a major headache with the task of accommodating them both along with the club's star player, Wayne Rooney, appearing to be a tricky one with the new signings linking so well without him.
Admittedly if any manager can bring the best from the squad at his disposal then surely it’s Sir Alex and the likelihood is that the United boss will solve the puzzle and have one of the most formidable attacking line-ups in Europe.
But until the position of a world class box-to-box midfielder, one similar to Yaya Toure at Manchester City, is addressed United will continue to struggle to turn defence into attack as quickly as the other top teams and Javi Martinez could have been the perfect player to ease the burden on United’s less dynamic midfielders.
Tough tackling, athletic, quick, and technically gifted, he has everything required for a player in this position and as he was deployed as a centre back last season for Bilbao, he could have also helped to alleviate some of the pressure caused by injuries to United’s defenders - which have resulted in Ferguson using Michael Carrick in an unfamiliar centre back role.
Perhaps Sir Alex simply viewed the availability of Robin van Persie as an opportunity too tempting to be shunned and in purchasing the Dutchman ultimately exhausted all of his available funds, but as United continue to lack drive and the want for a commanding midfielder continues, he may just look back and think that Javi Martinez is another one that got away.
Calling all United fans: Do you agree with Darryl? Should Fergie have gone Martinez instead of RVP? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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