Sir Alex Ferguson’s activities in the transfer market over the summer were quite limited. Antonio Valencia and Michael Owen were the only major additions to the squad after the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez. The addition of young French winger Gabriel Obertan may have escaped the attention of some fans, but his sporadic appearances in recent weeks have certainly caught the eye.
The 20yr old French winger was signed from Bordeaux for a fee believed to be in the region of £3 million. He is a regular for the French under-21 side and as such the relatively small sum paid for him is something of a surprise. He has already impressed in flashes at United and the first thing you notice about Obertan is his distinguished gait; he stands at 6ft 1in and travels with an easy loping style. He possesses great pace and can travel quickly with the ball at his feet; he also dribbles with his head up making it far easier to track the runs of his fellow forwards.
Sir Alex Ferguson will not be afraid of giving Obertan opportunities in the first team and the player can expect to play a role in the cup competitions and it would be no surprise to see him add to his 3 league appearances during the congested Christmas fixture list. There are numerous players that play in the same position as him so he may have to wait a while for his first start in the league, but if he continues to develop as a player he will make an impact. He still needs to improve on his decision making and finishing as he has shown a tendency to snatch at chances.
In United’s recent loss to Besiktas in the Champions League, Obertan was probably the most impressive player in a red shirt. He created two chances for himself as well as delivering a couple of dangerous crosses. His best moment came after an impressive run and shot from 20 yards that forced a good save from the goalkeeper. Comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo are inevitable but unfair, Obertan is a quick winger with some neat tricks but it is far too soon to talk about him in those terms; the former Bordeaux winger must be given time to develop as a player. The young Frenchman has shown enough in his brief career to suggest he has the talent to succeed at Manchester United; he already looks capable of challenging Nani’s position in the squad after the Portuguese player’s indifferent start to the campaign. It has been reported that he has already made significant improvements during training and the coaching staff at United are very optimistic about his future which bodes well.