With the January transfer window open, it comes as no surprise to see Manchester United being linked with big money moves for some of the hottest properties in European football. The club hoped to push on after their fourth-placed finish in the league last season, and they invested heavily in the summer on the likes of Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay and Anthony Martial.
It looked like good business but the one player they would have hoped to provide flair and width – Memphis – has had an indifferent season, and United have been struggling in the final third.
As usual, players such as Gareth Bale have been linked with the Red Devils, yet it seems that their most solid interest is centred on Lazio wide man Felipe Anderson. The 22-year-old Brazilian has become a key member of the Italian side over the last couple of years, managing ten goals and eight assists last season. He already has four goals this season and it seems United are ready to act on their long term interest in the young midfielder.
The fee being suggested is around the £35 million mark, which would make Anderson one of the most expensive signings by a British club ever. Should he join United and repeat the performances that he managed last season, it would be a brilliant signing.
However, it is worth noting that all ten of his goals last season – as well as his seven assists – came in a four month spell. The fact is that he is less successful with his dribbling attempts, and his shots per game and key passes have also dropped from 2.0 to 1.5 and 1.1 to 0.7 respectively.
In his two and a half years at Lazio, he has become a key member of the squad, but he has only occasionally shown the kind of form that would justify such a hefty fee. United can look at previous transfer dealings of their own and compare them to this potential signing, and they may have cause for concern. Memphis Depay ripped the Dutch Eredivisie apart last season yet has struggled for form despite arriving with a huge amount of expectation.
So Anderson will have even more pressure on his shoulders to achieve immediate success so that the weight of expectation can be lifted on the current crop of stars at Old Trafford. He should not, however, be viewed as a quick fix for United. If anything, he is a player that can develop into a top class footballer, but he may require patience and time – something United are short on at the moment.
Should Anderson join United and fail to live up to the expectations that will no doubt be set for him, Lazio will look like the real winners. United surely cannot afford to make any further signings that don’t hit the levels that they hoped for, so the club should tread carefully before they commit such a huge fee to sign the 22-year-old.
Whatever happens, it is a sure thing that United will feature in several transfer rumours between now and the end of the window, with their fans hoping it isn’t just going to be rumours they hear, but actual transfer business.