Lucas Moura has been attracting interest from European clubs for a number of years now, but only in recent weeks has it become competitive and concrete. Sao Paulo have turned down huge offers from Inter and Manchester Untied already, but is the Brazilian really the kind of signing that the Red Devils need to be looking at?
Lucas made his name at Sao Paulo as the club’s brightest young prospect. His free-flowing, direct attacking runs torment opposing defenders as he uses tremendous speed and agility to dart in and out of the opposition. He also possesses a ferocious strike which has seen him amass a number of stunning goals in the early stages of his career, though at club level they perhaps do not come frequently enough.
He has had a lot of expectation on him since coming onto the scene and at times he is guilty of going missing on the big occasions. Arguably this is down to the fact that he has been pigeon-holed as a right-sided attacking-midfielder during much of his time at Sao Paulo, when he prefers to be playing in behind the striker. He has performed exceptionally in that role in the past, particularly in the 2011 South American Youth Championship for Brazil, but this is not the area in which the Old Trafford outfit need to strengthen.
United’s midfield has been their problem area for many a recent season. They have ample cover in defence, something that was displayed at the start of last season with the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling filling in for more seasoned players. Their strength in attack is best displayed in the fact that Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez struggled to get much game time. In fact, if you exclude the signing of Paul Pogba, the last central midfielder that the Red Devils signed was Owen Hargreaves in 2007.
Despite the conversion of Ryan Giggs to a more central role, United were left embarrassingly short in the centre of the park and were forced to recall Paul Scholes out of retirement after Darren Fletcher was forced to take a indefinite leave of the game due to illness and Tom Cleverley was sidelined. Michael Carrick and Anderson were the only other options, and the Brazilian is yet to truly prove he is worth the £25m transfer fee forked out to sign him from Porto five years ago.
Shinji Kagawa has joined from Borussia Dortmund this summer but he is by no means a central midfielder. This means that the only reinforcement signed by Sir Alex Ferguson is Crewe Alexandra’s Nick Powell. The 18-year-old was used in a more advanced role at the League 2 side but he will play as part of a midfield four at Old Trafford. Yet he will no doubt need time to adjust to the vast jump in quality after going straight from the football league’s bottom rung right to the very top. It seems unlikely that he will be able to come in and effectively contribute to a Premier League title challenge just months after competing in the League 2 play-off final.
Luka Modric would have been the ideal addition to United’s midfield and with the extremely talented Cleverly returning from injury, a very different picture would have been painted. It should therefore be worrying that Ferguson is reportedly looking to strengthen in areas that really are not of the utmost necessity. Lucas may well be a fantastic prospect, but he will not help improve the club’s weakest area.
Even if Lucas was to be used out wide, his decision making and delivery are certainly below Premier League standard. He would benefit from remaining in Brazil until the World Cup, especially now Ney Franco, the coach who played him in his favoured position at the aforementioned South American Championship, has taken charge at Sao Paulo. There are even suggestions that Anderson could be used as a makeweight in the deal, leaving the Red Devils short in midfield once again!
With the 19-year-old drawing interest from Inter and Real Madrid, United must avoid getting dragged into a bidding war for signing a player who should not be a priority. Instead, Ferguson must turn his attention to his midfield and recruit more quality for the centre of the park if they are to keep pace with arch rivals Manchester City and contest the Premier League title once more.
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