Everybody knew this would be a big summer for Manchester United. They finished fourth in the Premier League last season and Louis Van Gaal – their charismatic Dutch coach – would have seen that as a failure. For a club like United, anything other than first is a defeat. And the fans that overlook the pitch from the Stretford End and the Sir Alex Ferguson stand at Old Trafford will have been wondering why fourth is now deemed acceptable at the Theatre of Dreams.
Well, so far this summer, it seems that their prayers are going to be answered. United have been crying out for a box to box midfielder for some time now, and they needed to beef up their attacking options too. Van Gaal has realised this and has brought in Memphis Depay from PSV, Matteo Darmian, a right-back joining from Torino, and two top class midfielders in Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin and World Champion and Bayern Munich hero Bastian Schweinsteiger. Remarkably, Schweinsteiger becomes the first German to play for the club. If reports are to be believed, United also want Sergio Ramos from Real Madrid and the likes of Thomas Muller and Gareth Bale are still on their wish list.
But the latest name to be mentioned could be the most exciting yet for fans of the Red Devils. Barcelona’s Spanish international forward Pedro has been linked with a move away from the Nou Camp with competition for places being so high. Neymar, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi have formed a formidable striking partnership and Pedro’s chances have been limited, hence the rumours that his days in Spain could be nearing their end.
With Angel Di Maria also linked with a move away from United, and Robin Van Persie having left the club, an improvement in their attacking quality is needed. Pedro is an experienced finisher and a versatile forward that can play on either wing. If he and Memphis Depay would play on either side with Wayne Rooney up front, considering the improvements made to the midfield, United could be a real force again this season.
Rumours are flying around that United have activated a £22m release clause in his contract, something the Spanish media seem to agree with now too. Considering that Manchester City have recently purchased Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling for more than double that – £49m – Pedro looks like a good signing if it happens, and at a good price.
Sure, some hopeful United fans would have been hoping Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale would join, maybe even Muller or Edinson Cavani. They do still need to add an out and out striker to have a chance of winning the title, as well as improving the defence.
But the signing of Pedro, which would take the club’s spending beyond £100m this summer alone, wouldn’t necessarily be the end of their business. United have gone two years without a trophy since they won the league in Sir Alex Ferguson’s farewell season. Two years may not be a lifetime for some clubs but that’s exactly how it feels for the Manchester giants.
Van Gaal is looking to do whatever it takes to end the trophy drought, and United fans are hoping that he can be successful in his second year at Old Trafford. If the signing of Pedro comes off it will be another major signal of intent for the coming season. A sign that United are back. A sign that they’ve refreshed the squad and a sign that they want another title for the trophy cabinet.
Whether they can overthrow the likes of Chelsea and 2014 champions and neighbours Manchester City is still to be seen, but the excitement is reaching fever pitch for fans around the world that this could be their year.