Sir Alex Ferguson’s latest signing came as a shock to virtually everyone. Not many would have recognised the name of Bebe before his fairytale move to Old Trafford, and it appears as if Ferguson himself had barely heard of him before he splashed out £7 million on the transfer. With competition for players now so fierce across Europe, the move highlights the games changing ways and similar transfers will undoubtedly follow. It has emerged that Ferguson had not even seen Bebe play, even on video, he signed the player on the recommendation of Carlos Quieroz and United’s Portugal based scout. With Real Madrid and Benfica apparently interested, the United boss obviously felt he had to strike quickly to get his man. He is quoted in The Sun as saying;
“On this occasion I didn’t watch him. It is the first time I have done it. Normally I see plenty of video footage but our scouting department is very good and sometimes you have to go on instinct. Our scout in Portugal was adamant we most do something quickly.”
Bebe had not even played a competitive fixture for his club Vitoria de Guimaraes before Man United met the release clause in the players contract, enabling a deal to be done smoothly. Much has been written about Bebe’s difficult upbringing, he was brought up in an orphanage and was playing in a street soccer tournament in Bosnia just one year ago. It is a remarkable rise and the details of his move highlight how the transfer market is evolving.
A player who is considered a ‘hot prospect’ not just in Europe, but across the world can now attract interest from a host of European clubs. Talented young players are highly sought after, and picking one up for a small price makes them attractive proposition in what has become a hugely inflated market. Clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United can no longer compete financially with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who have all spent vast sums of money on players in recent years. This means they often have to look at cheaper alternatives, and young players fit this bill nicely. It is understandable then that when Ferguson heard this highly recommended player was being circled by a number of top clubs, he made his rather impulsive move. If he had failed to act, Bebe might have signed for another club and grown into a top class player there; this was a risk Ferguson was unwilling to take.
Young players can now build up such a reputation that fans of clubs are calling for a players signing without ever seeing that individual play. Hands up who has actually seen Brazilian prodigy Neymar in action, yet such a head of steam has been built up around the player that most of us would be delighted to hear that he was going to sign for our club. Ferguson had a young talent recommended to him in similar glowing terms, and he acted. It is a method that comes with both pitfalls and rewards, but with such competition for players’ signatures now so intense, it might be one we see occur more often.