When Manchester United went to White Hart Lane for the league fixture with Tottenham earlier this month, manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that he wished United had done more to bring Gareth Bale to Old Trafford. The Welshman has evolved into one the brightest talents in word football, and now Ferguson is preparing a move to ensure another young star doesn’t slip through his fingers, with a last minute attempt to buy much coveted Southampton wonder-kid, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The 17-year-old has been widely expected to join United’s Premier League rivals Arsenal, after boss Arsene Wenger recently spoke of his desire to bring him to the Emirates. It wouldn’t be the first time Ferguson has lost out on to his old adversary on a transfer target either. As well as Bale, Fergie also tried to snap up Aaron Ramsay from Cardiff, but he chose to opt for North London instead after United wanted to loan the Welshman back to Cardiff for another season.
United never did enough for Ramsay to choose Old Trafford. He was shown around the Carrington training ground by Gary Neville, where as Wenger personally saw to it that the youngster got everything he needed. Similarly, United only offered £5 million for Bale when there was clearly competition.
So if Ferguson is serious about taking this opportunity, he needs to make Chamberlain believe he is going to be the new Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, and he must also ensure they outbid anyone else. Say what you want about the ethics of big clubs taking other sides young products away, but Chamberlain has made himself a wanted man. He has had his head turned by the bright lights of the Premier League, trophies and European football. Southampton simply cannot compete.
The problem that comes with going for a player who is wanted by some of the biggest clubs in the world, is that his price tag is going to rocket. Any attempt to buy him is going to cost United £10 million, and then the rest on top probably. It certainly represents a gamble. Bale has proved his worth and so has Walcott, but the latter took his time and many other clubs would have given up on the winger long ago.
It is believed that Chamberlain would prefer to follow in Theo Walcott’s footsteps and move from St Marys to Arsenal but you can bet that, if Ferguson wants the midfielder, he will surely do more to get his man.
Is it a gamble worth taking? Only time will tell. Chamberlain certainly has the potential to be another top player but his next move is going to be surrounded by the media with incredible intensity. I’ll bet the United manager is willing to take that risk though if it means he doesn’t lose out on yet another world-class prospect.