Whilst the January transfer window may admittedly fail to carry the same level of drama and expectation as it’s often hectic summer counterpart, Manchester United are a club who simply can’t escape the influence it exudes on major sports headlines throughout the country, and transfer speculation sites alike.
Although the Red Devils certainly obtained themselves a fair amount of fresh quality last summer, January nonetheless poses another chance for Louis van Gaal to strengthen his squad at Old Trafford even further. After such a poor performance mid-week in the Champions League against PSV, maybe such a notion arrives as somewhat of a necessity.
However, even though Man United do in-fact seem rather short of options among their striking department at this stage in the proceedings, current Wolfsburg left-back and Switzerland international – Ricardo Rodriguez – has nonetheless seen his name linked heavily with a move to Old Trafford this winter.
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So, whilst his may not be the first name on many United fans’ lips at the moment, do the Red Devils genuinely need the 23-year-old defender this January, or should LVG ultimately look to spend his resources elsewhere in 2015/16?
Well, as the Old Trafford faithful will certainly know from his current exploits in the Champions League this season, Ricardo Rodriguez honestly looks like he could well represent a truly special player.
Even at this particular stage in his career – the flying full-back may go down as one of the best assets of his kind currently operating on the European scene.
Whilst the left-back slot may not share the same kind of limelight as those playing in the attacking areas of the pitch for their respective team, Rodriguez is someone who still manages to shine inside the final third, despite the obvious limitations set upon him by his position at the back.
When it comes to scoring sublime free-kicks in the opposition’s half, displaying some of the best close-control technical skill we’ve seen from a defender in a long time, and simply providing his teammates with a constant service of well measured crosses from the wide positions – this is a player who rarely disappoints. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rodriguez take a step up in his career sooner rather than later, even if Wolfsburg would likely want to hold onto one of their star men at all costs.
The 23-year-old’s vision along the flanks and ability to pick out passes in almost Andrea Pirlo-esque style really can be impressive on most occasions – but as is always the case with the very best full-backs out there – Ricardo Rodriguez doesn’t undervalue his defensive responsibilities either.
Manchester United would therefore be greatly improved with the Swiss international on board. He would offer a great deal more dynamism down the left-flank than what Marcos Rojo will ever be capable of, likely injecting some much needed creativity into a side clearly short of ideas when challenging defenders in the final third.
However, because the Old Trafford hierarchy somehow saw fit to spend £27 million on Luke Shaw not so long ago, maybe this particular transfer story was always going to turn out a non-starter from the beginning. Although the former Southampton full-back remains frustratingly side-lined at the minute with a broken leg, Manchester United have already set their stool out in the shape of the 20-year-old Englishman.
It would simply prove far too unsustainable for the Red Devils to include both Ricardo Rodriguez and Luke Shaw among their current ranks, for their supposed interest in the current Wolfsburg man won’t prove a cheap venture by any means. The Swiss international is considered one of the best left-backs in the world right now, so if Louis van Gaal really wanted Rodriguez on board at Old Trafford, he likely would have signed him instead of Luke Shaw in the first place.
With all things duly taken into account, the resources required to sign Ricardo Rodriguez could ultimately be better spent elsewhere this January, the 23-year-old would likely remain cup-tied in the Champions League of course – and although Manchester United are certainly short of options in the full-back department this season – the Red Devils will simply have to make their current squad work in light of Shaw’s ill-timed injury earlier on in the campaign.